Building Partnerships. Creating Futures.

Manufacturing Connect


Manufacturing Connect (MC) is Manufacturing Renaissance’s (MR) nationally-recognized program that represents best practices in career pathways programming by building networks of private/public partnerships in public education and workforce development.  MC creates and expands the linkages between communities, schools and opportunity in the surrounding manufacturing sector for the benefit of both its participants and local industry.

MC began its development in 2007 as a prototype project, through the founding of Austin Polytechnical Academy (now Austin College & Career Academy, ACCA), in partnership with Chicago Public Schools to provide career pathway programs and services to youth on the Westside of Chicago.  Since then, MC has worked with over 90 manufacturers, various post-secondary institutions and community-based organizations to provide over 225 low-income, youth and adult participants paid work experiences, training for industry credentials, dual-credit classes, mentoring and leadership development opportunities, career and college counseling leading to full-time jobs and college enrollment.

MC currently consists of four active, interrelated programs: Manufacturing Career & College Connect (M3C), the Young Manufacturers Association (YMA), the Instructors Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing (IAAM), and MC Advisory Services.  Each program has emerged in response to providing long-term, high-quality services to participants and our partners.




A New Model for Manufacturing and Education

Manufacturing Connect is made possible through partnerships with Chicago Public Schools, local manufacturers, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Teachers’ Union, and leaders in the Austin community. So far it has partnered with over 90 local manufacturers to provide work-based learning experiences, field trips, job shadows and paid internships for young people on the West side of Chicago. In addition it collaborates with local post-secondary institutions like Daley College, Triton College and UIC, to provide students with college and career exposure.

As Manufacturing Renaissance’s first prototype project, Manufacturing Connect staff are continuously working to improve the program: incorporating participant experiences; codifying implementation practices; learning more about making the best use of data for program management, all in order to create a program that demonstrates clear outcomes for its participants as well as return on investment for both public and private partners. Learn more about the development of the MC program and the framework for the MC program design moving forward.

Since becoming fully operational in 2010, Manufacturing Connect has made a significant impact on the lives of youth in the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side, and advanced a new model for education linked to pathways toward career success. To date 185 high school participants have completed the program.  MC serves on average 150 participants, 9-12th grades, per year.

As of August 2016:

  • 298 paid internships and summer jobs in manufacturing for youth earning collectively over $291,000
  • 347 nationally-recognized industry credentials have been earned by MC program participants
  • 55 full-time manufacturing jobs, with an average retention of 1 year, earning between $20 – $75k per year plus benefits
  • MC has worked with 91 manufacturing companies to provide learning and work experiences for participants
  • MC is responsible for establishing the first manufacturing technology dual-credit course in Chicago Public Schools in 2015, the first class of 16 students just graduated high school with between 3-6 college credits each in addition to earning 1-2 industry credentials.
  • Building Training Infrastructure: MC raised over $150,000 in private investment to install the WaterSaver Faucet Manufacturing Technology Center, the only accredited, state-of-the-art machining training facility on the west side of Chicago.
  • Expanding Workforce Development: Between 2011-2014, MC provided adult training using the Austin Polytech machining facility. Over 80 percent of adult training graduates secured jobs or earned raises or promotions in current jobs averaging a $15.83/hour wage. MC provided a training for the formerly-incarcerated at Daley College in 2013 with 100 percent of graduates were placed, 87 percent are working in full-time manufacturing jobs for more than 90-days. MR was one of the founding members of Austin Coming Together‘s Austin Workforce Collaborative, and continue to participate in supporting the expansion of Austin’s workforce development infrastructure
  • Entrepreneurship Development: MC has been working towards starting a student-run manufacturing cooperative called Mech Creations. We want young people not only to aspire working in manufacturing but working towards ownership of manufacturing companies. Although currently not an active initiative, entrepreneurship development will be a key element of any future program expansion.
  • Community Partnerships: MR actively partners with a variety of community based organizations around Chicago on helping to build a community-driven support for Chicago becoming an international leader in advanced manufacturing.

To learn more or get involved, contact Erica Swinney Staley, Program Director, or (773) 278-5418