Gov. Pritzker Visits Joliet Junior College to Announce Proposed Investments in Higher Education

Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton gathered at Joliet Junior College (JJC), the nation’s first public community college, to announce the historic investment in community colleges and higher education proposed in the Governor’s FY 2024 budget.  

The Governor’s FY24 budget calls for the largest increase for community colleges in over two decades and historic investments in financial aid, putting Illinois on track to guarantee every student has access to the education and training they need to thrive.

“The significance of JJC being the nation’s very first community college is something I think about often,” said JJC President Clyne Namuo. “JJC started it all. JJC started the movement that is now 48 institutions strong in Illinois and 1,000 institutions nationally. The movement then spawned a phenomenon that is the modern American comprehensive community college,” Namuo continued.

Thank you for acknowledging the importance, the value, the impact, the significance of the work we do here at JJC and at community colleges across the state.”

The Governor and Lt. Governor were joined by JJC President Dr. Clyne G.H. Namuo, JJC Board of Trustee Chairman Dan O’Connell, Vice Chairwoman Maureen Broderick, Trustees Jake Mahalik, Alicia Morales and Student Trustee Joshua Stamborski. Additional attendees included Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, Shorewood Mayor Clarence C. Debold, Morris Mayor Chris Brown, Romeoville Mayor John Noak, Plainfield Mayor John Argoudelis; Senators Meg Cappel and Rachel Ventura; Elaine Bottomley on behalf of Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant; Will County Governmental League Executive Director Hugh O’Hara and Will County Center for Economic Development President & CEO Doug Pryor.

“Over the last four years, my administration has been laser focused on righting Illinois’ fiscal ship. Because of that work, our state can re-direct funding back into opportunity for Illinoisans, all while maintaining a balanced budget,” said Pritzker. “We’ve also increased funding for day-to-day operations at community colleges by over $25 million since I came into office. And my FY24 budget proposal would add another $19 million annually – the largest increase for community colleges in over two decades.”

The Governor’s proposed budget calls for a $100 million investment in Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, making it the highest in state history and a 75% increase in the program since the Governor took office. MAP grants provide monetary assistance for education to students who demonstrate the financial need and do not require repayment.  This proposal marks the highest level of MAP grant funding in the state’s history. Combined with Pell grants, the increased MAP investment will enable thousands of students to attend college tuition and fee free.

 “I have seen firsthand the incredible impact community college makes on student’s lives every day. My mother was an educator at a community college and community colleges will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Stratton. “Illinois is proud to support our community colleges. Not only because Illinois is home to America’s first public community college, but because we know that you open doors for so many to soar. It is up to us to ensure every aspiring student can benefit from your impact. That they know the door is open for them too.”

JJC serves approximately 27,000 students each year. Of those 27,000 students, 2,565 students received MAP funds; totaling $3.8 million in MAP fund distribution at JJC per year.

Jazmin Martinez, a first-generation college student and MAP grant recipient, shared that her life could have been dramatically different than it is now had she not had access to the MAP grant.

“Financially there was just no way I could have attended college on my own. Coming from a low-income household, college was not something I felt was within my reach,” said Martinez, who is student government president and a Phi Theta Kappa member. “It is grants like the MAP grant that have helped me to have all of these experiences. Experiences that, day by day, have made me a better person, a better leader and prepared for the life I have ahead of me. It has given me the chance to go places that a few years ago I thought were impossible.”

For Jessica Lopez, a first-generation high school graduate as well as first-generation college student, receiving the MAP grant provided her renewed hope that she could complete her nursing degree and break down generational economic and personal barriers.

“If it wasn’t for the MAP grant I don’t think I would be standing here today,” said Lopez. “I want to personally thank you for funding this grant. I thought my dreams of becoming a nurse were gone. This grant made it possible for me to break through a barrier that I never thought I could.”

The Governor’s FY 2024 budget also includes a 17% increase in areas that will positively impact the community college landscape in addition to the proposed base funding. These programs include:

  • $8.3 million for dual credit and non-credit workforce grant programs
  • $11 million for development of advanced manufacturing, EV technology, and data center workforce training programs
  • $750,000 to expand English language services 

“Through his proposed budget the Governor has acknowledged that community colleges play a critical role in shaping the modern economy and in building and maintaining strong communities,” said Namuo. “On behalf of JJC and the millions whose lives has been transformed at their local community colleges across the state—thank you.”


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