Heartland receives equity grant, approves levy


NORMAL — Heartland Community College will receive a $1 million grant to increase access to programs for people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. The grant is aimed at getting participants into jobs that pay 30% more than a living wage.

Terrance Bond, assistant to the president on equity, diversity and inclusion, spoke to the Heartland Board of Trustees at its meeting on Tuesday to announce the grant. The grant is through the Workforce Equity Initiative, an effort by the Illinois Community College Board, a consortium of Illinois community college and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to reduce disparities in employment and wages.

The grant will go towards improving access to Heartland’s programs for people from historically marginalized backgrounds, especially Black community members. 

The grant could go to cover tuition and be spent towards other barriers which are preventing underrepresented groups from utilizing Heartland’s programs.

Current students and incoming high school graduates can apply, Bond said, but the focus is more on bringing in people who might think Heartland does not have a place for them. Heartland plans to focus especially on recruiting and building partnerships on the west side of Bloomington.

Terrance Bond, assistant to the Heartland Community College president

For The Pantagraph

“The people we’re going to go after are the people who think they shouldn’t be out here applying or who think that a higher education degree isn’t something they should be applying for (…) this gives us a chance to say ‘yes, how do we make sure that once you’re here, you’re successful,’” Bond said.

This will be something that Heartland staff will be going out into the community to work on, to see what is preventing students from coming to Heartland and how the college can best address those barriers, he said. There is funding for a maximum of 145 participants next year, with Black students making up at least 60% of that.

Heartland was just informed it had received the grant last week. Bond plans to provide updates at the January meeting and anticipates a formal launch to the program sometime early next year, once at least a few definite community partner organizations have been found.

The board also approved its 2021 tax levy. The $28.3 million levy is around a 3.95% increase from the taxes received from the 2020 levy.

The board approved the levy at its meeting Tuesday night. It had previously approved a tentative levy, which was made available for the public. 

A drone view of the path a tornado took through parts of Edwardsville from Brockmeier Sod Farm to the Glen Echo subdivision after it hit the Amazon warehouse on Friday. Video by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Heartland Vice President of Finance and Administration Latisha Trepac expects there will be around a 4% increase in total equalized assessed value in District 540, which includes parts of Livingston, McLean, Tazewell, Logan, Ford and Dewitt counties.

“(4%) is a big jump, it just goes to show the economic health (of the district),” she said.

The Heartland board has instructed staff to prepare levies which keep the tax rate as consistent as possible. There is going to be slight variation based on how the numbers end up working out, but Heartland has kept its rate at around $0.578 per $100 equalized assessed value (EAV) for the past several levies, Trepac told The Pantagraph earlier this week.

“It is hard to get it exactly the same,” she said.

The 2021 levy is expected to lead to a rate increase of $0.0006 per $100 of EAV on a property. That works out to a $0.32 increase for a $165,000 property, board documents say. However, property owners may also see home and land values increase, which would lead to larger year to year dollar amount changes.

At the expected tax rate of $0.57830 per $100 of EAV, the owner of a property worth $150,000 could expect to pay around $290 for Heartland’s portion of the property taxes.

The board approved the levy unanimously.

The board also held a public hearing on the issuing of $20.5 million in funding bonds, which are part of the financing plan for the college’s upcoming capital projects, including the agriculture complex and advance manufacturing space. The board will actually vote on issuing the bonds next month, Trepac said. How far the funding goes towards other projects around campus depends on fundraising efforts for the projects.

“We will extend those dollars as far as we can,” Trepac said.

President Keith Cornille also acknowledged the work of Heartland’s fall sports teams, which included five teams which competed at national tournaments. Successes included a first place win for women’s soccer, a second place for women’s cross country and a third place for men’s cross country. 

Members of the teams were present Tuesday night to receive recognition as well as members of the coaching and athletics staff. 

“You lead by example, you lead with integrity, we’re just so proud of all of you and what you’re going to go on to do in life,” Cornille told the students.

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Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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December 14, 2021 at 09:03PM

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