Heavy metal band Metallica funds GRCC’s welding program for 4th year

A fourth grant from Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation will allow Grand Rapids Community College to help more nontraditional students gain in-demand welding skills.

GRCC was one of the first 10 colleges to be supported by the legendary band when it started the foundation’s Metallica Scholars program in 2018 and has been included every year since.

All Within My Hands has provided GRCC with $185,000 over the four years, and the latest grant helps continue a program aimed at underserved community members, giving them career skills as well as hands-on welding experience.

More than 100 GRCC students have earned certification through the program, a partnership between the band’s foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Investing in GRCC

GRCC currently is one of 32 colleges included in the program, and the only one in Michigan.

“We’re proud that Metallica and its foundation continue to invest in GRCC and our students,” says John Van Elst, interim executive director of GRCC’s Workforce Training. “When you provide someone with a new set of skills, you’re doing more than helping them get a new job. You’re changing the course of their lives.”

GRCC partners with local employers so students can participate in site visits, employee panels, and mentoring to help them determine if welding is a good fit for their career goals. Each student participates in individualized career preparation with GRCC to ensure they are job-ready upon completion of their welding license.

Proven, measurable impact

All Within My Hands leaders said the Metallica Scholars program has generated a proven and measurable impact. The foundation added 10 more schools to its roster, expanding its investment to $1.8 million, in year four.

“Our goal for the Metallica Scholars initiative is to shine a light on workforce education and support the next generation of tradespeople,” says Pete Delgrosso, executive director of All Within My Hands. “With the addition of the 2022-2023 Metallica Scholars program, our grants will reach over 2,000 men and women in 32 community colleges across 27 states. We are honored to support these students of all ages and backgrounds, and look forward to growing the program even further in the future.”

Increased salary potential

The foundation said, on average, students who complete the program see new job opportunities and increased salary potential up to three times higher than pre-program.

The foundation also will continue partnering with the Rockford-based boots and apparel maker Wolverine in a collaboration that has furnished financial support and outfitted Metallica Scholars with work boots.

“I drive into Grand Rapids from White Cloud every day for this training, so receiving the Metallica Scholarship was like winning the lottery, and the beautiful boots from Wolverine were a bonus, too!” GRCC student Armondo Medina says. “I’m just so thankful!”



Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.