Michigan is working on a plan that would provide all frontline coronavirus workers the opportunity to earn a college degree or technical certificate, tuition-free, the state’s governor said Wednesday.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Futures for Frontliners proposal at a press briefing, and said its goal is to give the “heroes” of the pandemic the chance to acquire technical certificates, associate degrees at community colleges and potentially bachelor degrees at universities.
“Historically, when Americans put their lives on the line to defend the rest of us from a foreign enemy, we have shown our gratitude by giving them educational opportunities to improve their lives,” she said. “Our enemy in this instance is a virus, but our frontline workers are just as heroic.”
She said the program was inspired by the World War II-era GI Bill, and that it is the first of its kind in the United States.
Workers who are potentially eligible for the program include people working in hospitals and nursing homes, grocery store workers, child care workers, workers manufacturing PPE, delivery people and sanitation workers.
“Each of these sectors of our economy is continued on because we depend on them, and so they deserve our thanks and our support,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
The Democrat added that the plan would help Michigan reach a goal she set last year that aimed to have 60 percent of Michiganders with a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2030.
Though it’s unclear how workers would apply for the program and how much it would cost, Whitmer said the state would use federal grant money to fund it, the Detroit Free Press reported.
As of Thursday afternoon, there have been at least 40,360 cases and 3,670 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Michigan, according to The New York Times. There have been at least 1 million cases and 61,755 deaths in the U.S.
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