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Dr. Sam: Education and Work Center fulfills community need in Hanover Park

Dr. David Sam Head Shot

David Sam, JD, Ph.D, LLM, President of Elgin Community College

Over the years, Elgin Community College has grown tremendously in size and scope. But our objectives since 1949 have remained the same. Let me take this opportunity to discuss the role of ECC trustees, and the part they play in helping to meet the needs of our community.

ECC, a unit of local government, is guided by District 509 Board of Trustees, which is composed of seven elected officials and one student trustee. These community members determine what programs and services the college will offer, to whom, at what cost, and with what priority.

They also assess the performance of the organization, establish policies to support the overall mission of the institution, and ensure we are meeting our mission to improve people's lives through learning. In addition, they are responsible for hiring and evaluating the College president. In other words, I am accountable to them.

ECC trustees are committed to excellence and accountability in everything the College does, including approving new programs and services. One of those programs is the Education and Work Center (EWC) in Hanover Park, which was voted on and approved by the Board in 2014.

The idea started four years earlier as a discussion about meeting the needs of the Hanover Park community by offering education and employment services free of charge to area residents.  At the time, Hanover Park was facing numerous challenges, including a high unemployment rate, and an increasingly diverse population.

After months of discussions, the EWC, located at 6704 Barrington Road, opened its doors to the community in fall 2014. The program was created through an innovative partnership among multiple entities, including Elgin Community College; Harper College; the Village of Hanover Park; Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and Illinois State Representative Fred Crespo.

The EWC is designed to serve individuals who are 16 and older who have less than a high school equivalency (GED). Classes are offered in English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education and High School Equivalency in English and Spanish. The Center is operated jointly by Elgin and Harper community colleges.

Services include student advising and assistance with financial aid, scholarships and college applications. The on-site Illinois workNet Center offers assistance with preparing for and identifying job opportunities and links individuals with other necessary community resources in the area. 

How do we know that this program fulfills a need in the community? Well, we served a total of 611 students in the first year alone. What an overwhelmingly positive response from our community!

This is one example of many successful community-driven programs that was voted on and approved by Districts 509 and 512 trustees. These trustees are committed to doing what is best for our students and our communities at large.

-David Sam, JD, Ph.D, LLM, President of Elgin Community College 

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