Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity

Leadership Community

The Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity began its efforts in 2012 following a visit by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that sparked a discussion among community leaders on preparing students for a global workplace.

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 was approved and launched in the spring of 2015.

Since 2018, Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity 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 together to work toward our city’s goals collectively. 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 Dunham Fund. This center will allow students to explore various career pathways and to learn skills that will allow them to enter career programs after graduation.

In spring 2021, Waubonsee Community College, in partnership with 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 credits. They will also participate in work-based learning opportunities and receive career coaching to help students transition to advanced manufacturing programs after high school graduation.

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.

Lead Intermediary Organization

Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce

Areas of Expertise

  • Asset Mapping
  • Pathways Curriculum Development
  • Dual Credit
  • Expanding Pathways

Prioritized Focus Areas

  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing

Key Successes

  • Expanded enrollments in pathways-related courses to 10,000, representing a 25% increase over previous year
  • Identified 75 employers for engagement
  • Chamber received $40,000 grant from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives/Lumina Foundation to support pathways
  • Opened the Weisner Family Innovation Center

2-Year Goals

  • Create sequencing for on-boarding employers who provide work-based learning activities
  • Define key metrics and explore “housing” of data collection responsibilities
  • Continue expanding and improving existing pathways in HS, IT, and MFG
  • Expand Pathways orientation to middle school

Community Updates

Accelerating Career Connections in Aurora

The Aurora Regional Chamber is implementing the Career Accelerator Grant program, which has supported over 50 community college students with funds for books, course materials, gas cards, and other resources.