City of Chicago and Olive-Harvey College launch a unique cannabis training and violence prevention program: Still I Rise, a scholarship initiative

Olive-Harvey College (OHC) is excited to launch its pilot scholarship program, Still I Rise, designed to provide wraparound services and free cannabis education certificates to individuals with violence involvement and who have cannabis records. Participants in this program will have the opportunity to take part in experiential events, receive hands-on training, and earn a Cannabis Processing Tech certificate. This pilot program was made available through a $1.6 million grant from the Chicago Mayor’s Office using cannabis tax revenue.

“When opportunity is abundant and barriers are removed, there are no limits to what our residents can achieve,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This program will play a critical role as we work to strengthen our communities and give our residents access to good-paying, sustainable jobs in a viable, fast-growing industry.”

“This cannabis training program will work as a violence prevention determent, and more than that, it will help people find a path to success,” said Kimberly Hollingsworth, President of Olive-Harvey College. “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been that defines you, it matters where you are going. If we can help our students find a pathway to success and land that first important job, we are helping them transform their lives.”

The pilot class, which starts this week, will accept up to 30 participants and includes a scholarship, stipend, academic support services, and essential skills training. The second session is planned to start Fall 2021 and includes transformative wraparound services such as mentoring, mental health services, record expungement, a stipend, scholarship, paid work-based learning opportunity, and essential skills training. Participants will learn about the cannabis plant and the different applications, cultivation best practices with hemp plants, and processing and extraction methods using state-of-the-art equipment.  Industry leaders will inform students about job opportunities.

Job opportunities available with this certification include Grower, Lab technician, Lab Director, Quality Control Tech, Manager, Concentrate Processor, Packager, and more.   

OHC has developed a comprehensive and in-depth academic curriculum development plan for our vocational program students in the legalized cannabis industry. This class will cover the basics of cannabis cultivation and processing, as well as the impact cannabis has had on our society, professional responsibility, cannabis regulations and analytical techniques in the industry. After completion, students will receive a certificate of completion of training in addition to three college credits. Partners: include Wilbur Wright College, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago Cred, Ex-Cons for Community & Social Change, Metropolitan Family Services, Claretian and Associates, Heartland Alliance and Growing Home.

OHC is currently delivering cannabis education and leading the efforts for community outreach, partnerships, and dialogue around the war on drugs and ensuring the Black and Brown community have the training and access needed to work in this booming industry. In order to meet the needs of our prospective students, OHC created a 16 credit Basic Certificate program in Careers in Cannabis and Dispensary Operations in which our students can complete as full-time or part-time students starting this fall. This program is stackable and will offer the option for the student to continue to an associate degree of science as well as transfer to a 4-year college or university.

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