ABC7 took a look at the opportunities created for laid-off workers.
The Buddy Foundation is refuge for over 100 dogs and cats until they find adopted families. Last year it became refuge for John Tobin, a laid-off salesman. There he found some place to feel useful as a volunteer and his passion has become his purpose. In order to have a career in veterinary care, he needed to go back to school. Tobin got a state grant to take veterinary classes at Harper College.
"It's a gift. I look at it like a perfect life storm. For me, on the spiritual end I look at it as destiny everything seemed to fall into place," said Tobin.
Laid-off workers can qualify for Workforce Reinvestment Act grants if they are out of work for 26 consecutive weeks; received a lay-off notice; were laid off due to a company's closure; or if they're unlikely to return to their prior occupation due to economic conditions in that industry.
In addition to the state grants, some schools are offering extra support for laid-off workers. Harper College created its own Career Stimulus program last year. The program offers financial workshops, career coaching and networking opportunities to give displaced workers a boost finding new jobs.
"We needed to get this program up and running. Highly successful people are finding jobs and getting retrained and that's what's important," said Nancy Wajler, Harper College.
Local colleges are a good place to start to see what financial help they offer for out of work students. But education funding can also be found in some unlikely places.
Leona Perry had helped her daughters get financial aid. When she was laid off a year ago as a computer security analyst, she started looking for scholarships for her educational reboot.
"I knew they were there but I didn't know they were there for older people. I knew they were there for high school kids. I was enlightened when I went to financial aid to find there are a ton of scholarships out there," said Perry.
Perry is a resident of Round Lake Heights and was eligible for Dollars for Scholars. Village board members set up the scholarship eight years ago. Back then most applicants were high school students with the recession there's a new crop of applicants.
"I think at my age I would be petrified to go out and get a scholarship but I really admire them," said Marva Meeks, Dollars for Scholars board member.
Dollars for Scholars paid for Perry's first class. State grants have paid for the rest. She's receiving a certificate as a computer forensic technician.
"You're interacting with people at night and it helps to talk to other people and find out you're not the only one in the same boat here," said Perry.
And Tobin will get a certificate as a vet assistant. He's already got job offers.
"I always loved animals. It's the philosophy, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life," said Tobin.
With so much attention trying to help those out of work, government funds have increased to these programs. Some state grant money for laid-off workers came from the stimulus package. Another recommendation from financial aid experts is to look for scholarships locally: your town, your professional organization and community organizations.
Find Workforce Investment Act providers: www.illinoisworknet.com/vos_portal/residents/en/Education/Training_Providers/
Information about the Workforce Investment Act in Illinois:
Federal education assistance for those out of work:
Harper College links:
Career Stimulus: goforward.harpercollege.edu/page.cfm?p=5269
Grants for Career Training: goforward.harpercollege.edu/page.cfm?p=4402
Financial Aid: goforward.harpercollege.edu/page.cfm?p=4299
The Buddy Foundation:
This link provides a way for people who are interested in receiving services to click on an area of the Illinois map and get information about the service centers nearest to them: