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DPI and P33 will co-lead efforts to connect hundreds of residents from underrepresented groups with quality education and job opportunities

The Discovery Partners Institute and P33 will spearhead tech-specific workforce development programs in support of an $18.5 million federal Good Jobs Challenge award announced earlier this month.

The Chicago region was one of 32 recipients of Good Jobs Challenge funds, awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. With this award, Cook County and Chicago leaders will partner with companies to create hundreds of jobs in four key industries: information technology, healthcare, transportation and logistics, and manufacturing. The Chicago Cook County Workforce Partnership will lead the regional efforts.

“Discovery Partners Institute is thrilled to be a part of a regional workforce initiative that centers equity and diversity,” DPI’s Executive Director Bill Jackson said. “We believe that preparing people to thrive in quality tech jobs is key to closing racial and gender wealth gaps and in turn, transforming our region. We’re looking forward to partnering with local employers to start this transformation.”

The Good Jobs Challenge represents a $500 million investment from the federal government and is part of the $3 billion American Rescue Plan, part of the Biden Administration’s response to the crippling economic effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership was one of two Illinois-based grantees, selected from a competitive pool of 509 applicants.

“In its notice that our proposal had been chosen, the EDA stated that it stood out for ‘its ability to create good job opportunities for Americans to help local industries and economies develop the skilled workforce needed to innovate and compete globally,’” said Partnership Interim CEO Patrick Combs. “We are thrilled to have been chosen in such a competitive process and look forward to investing these funds to foster employer-led workforce training in high-demand, high-growth sectors, to reach underserved communities with career-pathway job opportunities.”

DPI, a part of the University of Illinois System founded in 2018, focuses on inclusive tech talent development, research and development, and business building. DPI will collaborate with P33 and employer partners to co-design short-term training programs and support employers seeking apprenticeships to address their long-standing talent needs in highly technical fields.

DPI and P33 will work with employer partners to develop work-based learning programs that develop the technical, professional and business skills of employees from underrepresented groups. Apprenticeships will be a priority, building on the success of programs at partner-companies like Cognizant.

“I want to congratulate DPI and P33 for co-leading this effort to bring millions of dollars in funding that will support connecting individuals to good paying jobs in our booming tech economy,” Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said. “This will pay dividends in years to come by providing residents the skills they need to be successful in today’s workforce.”


The Discovery Partners Institute empowers people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, it does three things: Train people for high-demand tech jobs; conduct applied R&D; and support business building. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop, and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here.