Momentum building among area high school students for FAME program at JWCC

Dominque Spurgeon FAME applicant

Dominique Spurgeon | Photo courtesy of John Wood Community College

CANTON, Mo. — Dominique Spurgeon was looking for a new type of college experience and found it through the region’s new Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) program.

Spurgeon, a senior at Canton High School, is one of 13 applicants in a growing pool of students interested in the earn and learn opportunity in the manufacturing industry.

The FAME program is a national educational model that involves working with regional manufacturers three days a week and training at John Wood Community College’s Workforce Development Center in Quincy two days a week as part of a two-year advanced manufacturing technician associate degree.

“It sounds like exactly what I want for a college experience,” Spurgeon said in a press release. “I like how you get to learn multiple things while you go through the program. One day you’ll be in class learning something, and the next day you could put what you learned to use. I think others should consider this opportunity because it could be a pathway to a great job.”

Applicants will work for one of five regional employers — DOT Foods, Gardner Denver, General Mills, The Knapheide Manufacturing Company and Titan Wheel — for work experience which starts in June before August coursework at JWCC. During training, students will earn at least $21 per hour. Upon completion of a two-year degree, employers have agreed to pay students a starting salary of $63,000 annually.

“Manufacturing, transportation, and distribution are crucial sectors of our regional economy,” JWCC President Bryan Renfro emphasized. “The investment these companies are making in the workforce is visionary and necessary for the tri-states to compete globally. It’s an incredible opportunity for those who will be selected, and we look forward to seeing the impact this first cohort of students will have for all our Great River FAME partners.”

JWCC, in collaboration with the Great River Economic Development Foundation and five founding company partners, launched Illinois’ first FAME chapter in February 2024.

The application deadline for the program is May 15. The Great River Fame chapter is seeking up to 18 people to fill the first cohort of students. Details and application materials can be found at http://www.greatriverFAME.org or by contacting Kayla Wentz at kwentz@jwcc.edu or 217-641-4957.

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