Investment made in Northwest Chicago career academy

Chronicle Media

Prosser Career Academy culinary students make their way to Hanson Park Elementary School to serve food. The academy on Chicago’s Northwest Side is getting a $12 million investment for expanded programming and improved facilities. (Photo courtesy of Prosser)

A $12 million investment will be made to support expanded programming and improved facilities at a career academy on Chicago’s Northwest Side.

The partnership between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Federation of Labor will be made to enhance Charles A. Prosser Career Academy.

“Prosser will soon serve as a national model for specialized trade schools and showcase what our students can accomplish when given the opportunity to succeed,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday (Sept. 6) in announcing the improvements. “By infusing our schools with strong partnerships like these, the future is brighter not only for our students but for employers across the city. I want to thank the Chicago Federation of Labor and all of our industry partners who are helping Chicago students to gain the skills necessary to access a 21st century career.”

Emanuel said that expanding access to and strengthening vocational training has long been a priority of his. Since 2011, Emanuel said, he and CPS have expanded career and technical training opportunities in high schools across the city and invested in city high schools with curriculum, programs and opportunities that prepare students for the demands of the 21st century, along with strengthening vocational programs at City Colleges and working with employers to create a pipeline to good jobs.

In 2016, a citywide construction trades program was established at Dunbar Career Academy High School to prepare students for careers in: general construction; carpentry; heating, ventilating and air conditioning; welding; and electricity.

“While college remains the North Star, we have a responsibility to prepare our students for success beyond high school in multiple pathways and providing career programming today will help them build the skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow,” said CPS CEO Janice K. Jackson. “Today’s investment supports the district’s “Learn. Plan. Succeed.” initiative and helps prepare students for the opportunities of the future.”

As part of the district’s nearly $1 billion capital budget, the investment at Prosser includes a new wing to support Chicago Builds, a two-year training program in the building trades for 11th– and 12th-grade students who are interested in pursuing a career in the building trades after high school graduation.

The programs at Prosser will be modernized to align with the Chicago Federation of Labor and industry training partners. Labor partners will provide technical assistance to students and teachers to ensure programs align with industry standards and stay current to industry trends.

“For years, the education system in our country has deconstructed the relationship between our students, teachers and vocational trades. Unions under the CFL’s umbrella are proud to be partners in our schools to strengthen the pipeline to good union jobs and grateful for the mayor’s commitment and investments in vocational training. Today’s investment is another important step to prepare Chicago’s students for the opportunities that present themselves in the service industries, manufacturing and the construction trades,” said Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “By combining the skills of the union trades and the passion of our union teachers, Chicago’s young men and women who complete this program will gain life-changing skills that will lead to greater opportunities after graduation, including access to good, union jobs.”

Program partners include:

  • Culinary Arts/Food Service Industry Program: UNITE HERE Local 1
  • Electrical/Alternative Energy Program: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134
  • Advanced Manufacturing Program: Manufacturing Renaissance
  • Carpentry/Construction Trades Program: Laborers International Union of North America, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and Construction Industry Service Corp.
  • Automotive Technology Program: Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701


Partnerships will also be named for the Digital Media Program and the Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning Program.

Prosser students will have access to opportunities in pre-apprenticeship programs and paid internships with industry partners in chosen career paths. Students will also have the opportunity to earn dual credits through the City College of Chicago partnership.

“This is a huge investment into the future careers of the hundreds of students who attend Prosser Academy,” said Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward). “We are proud to help students launch into careers that will make a difference in building a stronger future both for our graduates and employers across Chicago.”

More than 90 percent of Prosser students in 2018 graduated with at least one early college and career credential. Mayor Emanuel said the unprecedented national model would provide Chicago’s students greater choice in career paths and training that will set them on a path to the middle class.


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