Rend Lake College once again has been awarded more funding than any other community college in the state through the Illinois Cooperative Work-Study Program, according to Director Ed Ruffino of the Center for Business Services.
More than 75 RLC students and countless grade and high school students throughout the district are expected to benefit from the $92,000 Work-Study Grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education during the coming school year.
Rend Lake College students will provide classroom assistance and individual tutoring for young learners in 20 districts thanks to the monetary award, with each institution matching payroll costs from the IBHE grant to double the earned income potential of RLC participants.
Only Bradley University, Northern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Dominican University and the University of Illinois at Springfield will receive more than Rend Lake College. Lake Land College in Mattoon is the only other public, two-year college among the top 20 recipients. A total of 55 grants were awarded.
Cooperative education, commonly referred to as co-op, on-job training or internship, is a method of instruction which provides an opportunity for students to be employed in their fields of study and earn college credit for their work, Ruffino explained. Most co-op positions are paid ones.
In this case, the Cooperative Work-Study Program Grant is designed primarily to enable Education and related majors a chance to practice in their chosen fields.
According to Ruffino, the primary objectives of the ICWS program are to benefit students academically and financially, to reduce reliance on student loans through added income, to enhance public-private partnerships and to encourage students to seek permanent employment in Illinois.
The Cooperative Education program is in the process of recruiting Education majors to be employed as student assistants in Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton and Perry counties. Qualified students work 15-20 hours per week and are paid $6.50 per hour. Students also earn up to four college credits each semester.
Obvious benefits are to the host schools and the young students who receive mentoring support and potential role models.
“For our students,” said Ruffino, “the primary benefit is the fact it gives education majors a first-hand opportunity to see if teaching really is what they want to do for a career. The academic and professional work experience is tremendous. It better prepares students for the teacher education programs at their four-year schools. It also helps our students pay for their college educations and earn college credit.”
Area schools participating in the RLC Cooperative Work-Study Grant Program include Akin Community Consolidated School District 91, Benton Consolidated High School, Benton District 47, Bluford District 114, Christopher Unit District 99, Dodds District 7, Ewing-Northern District 115, Farrington Grade School, Field District 3, Hamilton County Schools, Ina Grade School, McClellan School, Mt. Vernon District 80, Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School, Pinckneyville District 50, Rome District 2, Sesser-Valier Schools, Summersville District 79, Thompsonville Grade School and Woodlawn District 4.
This year, the grant also will support a new internship program at Continental Tire’s Mt. Vernon plant to train students as industrial technicians.
“Our administration and board have been extremely pleased with the Cooperative Work-Study program and the students assigned to our school,” said Ruffino.
“The program definitely is a ‘win-win’ proposition for both Rend Lake College students and participating schools and their students,” said one area administrator.
The Cooperative Education Work-Study Grant Program is open to students who have completed at least 12 semester hours of college credit and have a grade-point average of 2.0 or better. Students must be making demonstrable progress toward their selected majors.
Interested students should contact Ruffino in the RLC Student Center at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1354, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for more information.