Illinois community colleges receive virtual reality grants

Funding will be used to purchase VR equipment and software to recruit and train students

The Illinois Community College Board has awarded $766,000 to 12 Illinois community colleges to help implement virtual reality equipment into existing Career and Technical Education programs statewide.

The funding will allow recipient colleges to purchase VR hardware and software to recruit and instruct students in a variety of workforce training programs for industries such as health care, criminal justice, manufacturing, and HVAC.

Among the grant recipients are: College of DuPage, $52,205; Elgin Community College, $94,000; and Oakton College, $100,000.

“The Illinois Community College System is constantly looking to stay at the forefront of workforce development,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham. “This funding will not only help recruit students who want access to the latest technology, but also provide new cutting-edge training opportunities to better position them for success in their chosen career fields.”

The two-year grant program was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in Fiscal Year 2024. Individual grant amounts were awarded based on college program and equipment needs.

“This funding brings new perspectives to community colleges around the state through VR technologies that will enhance and explore new avenues of hands-on learning in our schools,” said state Sen. Javier Loera Cervantes, a Chicago Democrat. “VR programs have been utilized in many industries and have so much potential for growth in the future that implementing these programs in our community college system can give Illinois students a competitive advantage in their education and beyond.”

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