One thing we keep hearing about when we talk about improving Michigan’s economy is that employers are having a difficult time finding workers with the skills they need.  The latest effort to address the problem comes from Kellogg Community College (KCC), thanks to a $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Over the next four years, KCC plans to provide Battle Creek residents with no-cost job training, scholarships for college degrees, tailored support services, laptop computers, digital skills training and incentives.

KCC is expanding its iACT (Innovative Accelerated Credentialed Training) initiative this year to continue short-term training that equips people for high-demand manufacturing and health care-related jobs and develop new training options in service/retail and phlebotomy. Also, KCC will soon create iACT Next Step, which aims to provide scholarships that iACT participants can use toward associate degrees or certificates.

Between March 2021 and the end of 2024, KCC intends to offer a total of 17 cohorts (small-group training sessions that last six to 15 weeks) in the following areas:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Phlebotomy
  • Service/Retail

The cohorts will be free for Battle Creek residents who meet income guidelines.

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One of the goals of the initiative is to help place successful iACT participants in jobs making at least $15 per hour, the equivalent of $31,200 per year.

Dr. Adrien Bennings, KCC-TSM Photo
Dr. Adrien Bennings, KCC-TSM Photo

“Kellogg Community College achieves its mission of providing high-quality education that enriches the lives of individual learners in a variety of ways,” said KCC President Adrien L. Bennings. “With the expansion of our iACT offerings, we will work with our workforce partners to help our community achieve higher post-secondary attainment, which means our Bruins will be in a position to get a new job or a promotion while commanding higher wages and better benefits.”

Through partnerships with local employers, nonprofit organizations, community organizations and philanthropic funders, KCC leverages community resources to help Battle Creek residents who meet income guidelines attain the skills and credentials they need to earn and keep rewarding jobs. The iACT initiative is designed to serve underserved adult students from disadvantaged and historically marginalized populations.

Participants will receive free access to the in-person training at either the North Avenue campus or the Regional Manufacturing Technology Center, both of which are in Battle Creek. They also will receive cash incentives – as much as $1,500 total over two years – as they accumulate certain amounts of course credits that demonstrate their progress toward a degree or certificate. The purpose of the incentives is to assist with retention and completion – both of which are components of the KCC Strategic Plan – while removing financial barriers for participants.

In addition, participants will receive a free laptop, access to a free Internet hot spot, guidance on how to use technology and library resources, resume advice, job-interview coaching and career exploration opportunities. As KCC students, participants also will receive the many services and benefits available to all students, including academic advising, tutoring, counseling and top-notch instruction by faculty in a variety of subject areas.

The iACT initiative, begun in 2017 with funding from the Kellogg Foundation after a previous federal training grant had been fulfilled, has helped to fill the community’s need for short-term, accelerated training that positions students for immediate employment. Expanding the initiative to include iACT Next Step will create long-term career opportunities for participants beyond short-term training and immediate employment.

“KCC’s iACT and iACT Next Step initiatives are not only helping with the state’s goal of increasing the percentage of Michigan residents who have a college degree, but they also empower participants to achieve stronger economic security that will benefit them and their families for years to come,” said Dr. Dennis Baskin, Dean of Workforce Development at KCC.

“Based on our experiences with iACT in the past, we know that participating in this initiative is life-changing,” Dr. Baskin said.

The iACT and iACT Next Step initiatives at KCC are part of a community collaborative to improve outcomes in employment, educational attainment and income for participants who often face inequitable barriers. Statistically, attaining a post-secondary degree empowers people to improve their economic situation through a new career, salary increases, stronger job benefits and higher lifetime earnings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with an associate degree in 2019 earned an average of $46,124 per year while people with only a high school diploma earned $38,792.

To meet the needs of the target population, KCC is partnering with Michigan Works! Southwest, Goodwill Industries and the Woman’s Co-op.

As a sub-grantee to this initiative, the Woman’s Co-op in Battle Creek will partner with KCC to develop a bridge to post-secondary education for the women served by the organization. The Woman’s Co-op offers three onsite job training programs, including front-line services, janitorial and industrial sewing. These training programs are a pathway to KCC and its training and secondary education opportunities.

KCC also will partner with Goodwill Industries, which will teach financial literacy to all iACT students, and Michigan Works! Southwest. Together, the partners will provide iACT graduates with opportunities for job placement assistance and employer connections.

For more information about iACT and iACT Next Step, including how to sign up for upcoming training sessions, visit or contact KCC Workforce Solutions Program Manager Lisa Larson at 269-565-2828.



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