Building Partnerships. Creating Futures.

Manufacturing Connect (MC) is Manufacturing Renaissance’s (MR) nationally-recognized program that represents best practices in career pathways programming by building private/public partnerships in public education and workforce development. 

MC started in 2007 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 100 manufacturers, various post-secondary institutions and community-based organizations to provide youth and adult participants with 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. Austin College & Career Academy is still the only NIMS-accredited high school program in the City of Chicago. Since September 2017, we are also at Bowen High School. 

MC operates three interrelated programs:

  1. Manufacturing Career & College Connect (M3C)
  2. the Young Manufacturers Association (YMA)
  3. Instructors Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing (IAAM)

In addition to this, we also partner with JARC in running the adult training program at Austin school’s machine shop. It is a traditional adult training program that runs in the evenings. For more info please visit


As of August 2017:

  • 420 paid internships and summer jobs in manufacturing for youth earning collectively over $291,000
  • 421 nationally-recognized industry credentials have been earned by MC program participants
  • 78% students receive NIMS certificate
  • 60 full-time manufacturing jobs, with an average retention of 1 year, earning between $20 – $75k per year plus benefits
  • Of the 62 young adults placed, 76% made the 90-day job retention milestone or better
  • The average job retention of MC graduates across all 91 placements is 11 months
  • Over 100 manufacturing companies participated
  • First manufacturing technology dual-credit course in Chicago Public Schools in 2015
  • 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. 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.

To learn more or get involved, contact Erica Swinney Staley, Program Director, or (773) 278-5418 ext. 30