EMPOWER program gets $150,000 grant to help even more women in the trades

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Helping women succeed in the trades is a big focus for the Minnesota North college system.

They have a workforce development program called EMPOWER. And the Women’s Foundation just awarded them a $150,000 grant to keep expanding it to more campuses and more young women.

Angela Heikkila is already seeing big changes. She’s the Technical Education Career Coordinator, and makes sure the students have what they need, like tools and PPE. There’s also ways to make sure barriers like tuition costs and lack of childcare can be addressed.

“I feel like there’s more support out there for them. More exposure. That’s the biggest thing. Some of the girls at these events have never been exposed to this, and it’s super exciting to see them wanting to be at a welding program or a carpentry program,” Heikkila said.

They plan on several events in February where they’ll have school age students come to the college campuses, to hear more about the opportunities available. And then they’ll also have the chance to take a tour.

Funding from Iron Range Resources has also been key.