In July 2012, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity invited Aurora and Chicago Public Schools to participate in an asset-mapping process coordinated by Jobs for the Future and Harvard University. At that time, the City of Aurora under the leadership of Mayor Tom Weisner and the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Waubonsee Community College and West Aurora District 129 began formalizing a plan to address the needs.
In January 2013 the Aurora Pathways to Prosperity initiative was launched at Cabot Microelectronics with more than 75 business and community leaders in attendance. Based on discussions with local and regional leaders, pathways were identified (including dual-credit opportunities, certifications, and work-based learning experiences). The initial cohort of formalized pathways were approved and launched in the spring of 2015.
Since 2018, pathways has been working closely with the city of Aurora’s Education Commission to advance education outcomes in our community. As Aurora is a large, diverse, city across several school districts, municipalities, and counties, the education commission’s goal is to bring education partners to collectively work towards our city’s goals. Pathways will continue to work closely with Aurora’s Education commission to better our community’s education outcomes.
In 2019, West Aurora School District 129, opened the Weisner Family Innovation Center, which is a career preparedness center, focusing on pathways to success, such as manufacturing and IT. This 18,000 square foot facility was built in collaboration with the East Aurora School District 131, the City of Aurora, and the Dunhum Fund. This center will allow students to explore various careers pathways and to learn skills which will allow them to enter career programs after graduation.
In spring 2021, Waubonsee Community College with partnership of local high schools will be launching the inaugural high school dual enrollment manufacturing pathway program. Students will be able to attend manufacturing classes at Waubonsee during the day and earn both college and high school credit. They will also participate in work-based learning opportunities, and receiving career coaching to help students transition after high school graduation to advanced manufacturing programs.
With the support and involvement of the employer community, the Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity initiative will continue to grow by addressing the needs of the region while supporting the educational attainment of its students.