Community center pairs low-income residents with job training

- A new state-of-the-art community center has opened it's doors just south of Chicago's Loop and is offering highly skilled programs for both teens and adults.

It's called CHICAT and it’s teaching low-income community members skills for free with the hope that it means jobs for the future.

It isn't your typical after school art class. These teens are learning 3D printing, digital art and so much more.     

"I probably wouldn't even experience this anywhere else," one participant said.

CHICAT’s Executive Director Sequane Lawrence said the center is multi-faceted.

"One, it's a community development center an art center and it's a technology and training center, so our brand is three parts," Lawrence said.

CHICAT offers tuition-free arts and technology to both teens and adults. It's located in what was once a vacant paint factory in the city's lower West Side, offering after school classes for teens and vocational and skills training for adults at night.

It's been transformed into a $13-million facility, filled with museum-quality artwork, 21st century classwork, incredible views of Chicago and equipment that you might only find in a million-dollar corporation with the most advanced technology.

The programs are just getting started and are catering to Pilsen, Little Village and North Lawndale communities. Job training for adults will be in health care programming, medical billing, coding, food manufacturing and maintenance mechanic training.  These are all skills organizers said are in high demand and hopefully will result in putting community members to work,.
"For the population we are serving this is very important. A lot of them have not worked before and these are jobs paying $37,000 entry level," Lawrence said.

The adult training programs begin in June and CHICAT hopes to train close to 100 teens and adults by the end of this year with the goal of reaching even more community members in years to come.

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