Building Blocks of Future Pathways

Jan Wright, Publisher, iBi

“Given a supportive environment, all children have the potential to succeed and make a positive contribution to society,” declares the Heart of Illinois United Way’s 2017 Community Assessment. “Investing in youth provides greater long-term returns and is less costly than interventions later in life.”

The Assessment, now available for download at hoiunitedway.org, highlights trends in the areas of financial stability, health and education—the critical building blocks of safe and stable lives. Unfortunately, factors outside of the classroom—from unfulfilled basic needs to adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect—can greatly inhibit the learning process. The United Way uses the Assessment to identify the Peoria region’s most critical needs, and in collaboration with its partners, determine how best to tackle them.

Among these challenges, numerous community organizations are focused on tackling the gap between the needs of employers and the skills of the workforce. Of course, everything begins with education.

Industry and education are together at the table again, and Alignment Peoria and Peoria Pathways to Prosperity are among the initiatives attempting to address the skills gap. In this issue, Peoria Pathways Coordinator Brent Baker looks at how internships can be game changers for students, while Peoria Public Schools, the University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Central College and others provide updates on new career pathways and how they are evolving to meet these community needs.

From the “gamification” of learning and learning through play, to the importance of arts education and physical education, this issue covers a wide range of related topics. And that doesn’t even touch on our cover story: Bradley University’s collaboration with Caterpillar and NASA to create habitats for humans on Mars—with potentially enormous implications for the future of the construction industry.

The 3D Printed Habitat Challenge is a huge win: a showcase for Peoria as a hub of advanced technology and R&D, and a perfect illustration of the collaborative projects that will come out of Bradley’s new business and engineering complex when it’s completed.

Can you believe 2017 is already more than halfway over? Despite adversities beyond our control, we in Greater Peoria remain resilient and adaptive. As always, Peoria Magazines will continue to shine a light on the work being done to ensure our community not only survives, but thrives—and you can help! Nominate a young leader at peoriamagazines.com/40-leaders, and help us recognize the next generation of community advocates and trailblazers. iBi

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