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Macomb Community College awarded $1.1M grant from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for training and educational outreach

– Tuesday, August 22, 2017 12:00AM

PRISM Project to help systemic change in educational attainment, employment and income in south Macomb County

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has awarded Macomb Community College a $1.1 million grant to help create systemic change in educational attainment, employment and income in south Macomb County. The PRISM (Prosperity Reaches into Southern Macomb) Project will support training for adults in advanced manufacturing, outreach to introduce and engage high school students in information technology fields, and a pilot on enhancing employer engagement in sustaining workforce training programs. 

“We are grateful for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s support of the PRISM project,” said James O. Sawyer IV, president, Macomb Community College. “While it is about providing training for jobs, it’s also about much more. It’s about positioning residents for long-term success, helping them develop both foundational and technical skills to pursue sustainable career pathways versus short-term jobs.  And, more broadly, it’s about enhancing community vitality, building a strong pipeline to address the skills gap, growing local business and industry, and fostering a stronger regional economy.” 

There are three strands to the PRISM Project, which focuses on south Macomb County, where employment, education and income levels significantly lag behind that of the county’s other communities.   One aspect of the project is workforce development, providing advanced manufacturing training to a minimum of 100 adults.  The college will be employing a comprehensive support services model that intensively engages with students throughout the entire process, beginning with recruitment and program selection, continuing through their course of training and extending through career coaching and job placement. 

For the second aspect of the project, Macomb will collaborate with the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium (SMTEC), a partnership between the Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke and Warren Woods school districts, to connect high school students to burgeoning opportunities in the information technology field.  In the summer of 2018, 100 high school students will participate in weeklong PRISM IT academies, each day exploring a different IT field through hands-on activities.  Macomb and SMTEC will also be working on a program modeled after the highly successful Early College of Macomb, which provides students the opportunity to complete college classes while attending high school.

An employer innovation pilot is the third component of the project.  Macomb will be working with both the Wilson Foundation and employer partners to identify opportunities for employers to be involved in sustaining workforce training programs.

“Macomb Community College has a long history of innovation when it comes to adapting to the ever- changing landscape of workforce training and development,” said David Egner, president & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “This new project is about providing a clear and more affordable pathway to industry certifications or associate degrees that are relevant to our region’s economy.  The more local employers we can engage in helping to drive, shape and grow this project, the greater the impact it will have in connecting jobseekers with the opportunities available in these growing industries.”

About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 40,000 students annually.  Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: Jeanne Nicol,, 586.445.7204