Rockford Illinois: A workforce for the future through Alignment partnerships

Submitted by Sydney Rogers, AUSA Consultant

An exciting partnership in Rockford Illinois will create a brighter future for the city. Rockford wants to create a sustainable pipeline of Rockford’s own students who will become a diverse and effective fire and police workforce. Alignment Rockford (AR) is bringing together all of the partners who will make this happen.  AR will work to establish elementary and middle school programs, high school fire science and law enforcement classes and certification programs, connections to postsecondary educational programs, internship and career placement assistance programs plus all of the employer, non-profit, and civic partners to make sure they are successful. This really is the whole package.

Mayor of Rockford, Larry Morrissey says, “Our organization had been working for years to develop and manage the components necessary to support our local young people interested in a career in public safety, but it just wasn't happening. As we reflected on the challenge, we became convinced that we needed an outside, independent partner to help us brand, market and manage public safety career pathways. That's why we developed our new partnership with Alignment Rockford.

Alignment Rockford will coordinate existing partnerships and programs and identify gaps in the pipeline. From elementary and middle school programs, to high school fire science and law enforcement classes, to professional certification and college academic programs, AR will help connect our young people to mentoring, internships and career opportunities with our local public safety employers.

Our City's support and involvement with AR at the policy, operations, and tactical levels helped us see this opportunity and will help us implement the program components. This really is a comprehensive cradle to career initiative and we're very excited to move this effort forward.”

Rockford’s Fire Chief, Derek Bergsten, plans to work with AR to develop a program so that students can work as a cadet right out of high school until they are 21, the required age to be hired on full-time.

Built on a solid foundation

Alignment Rockford’s implementation of wall-to wall high school Academies and Pathways in all high schools has established a proven and sustainable framework for both education and workforce development. In only 3 years the work of the community bore fruit with a dramatic improvement of 10% increase in graduation rates for minority students and 6% increase for all other students. The success of the College & Career Pathways of Rockford has set the standard for the future. Now, with a structure in place and a foundation on which to build, Rockford can create this new public safety & fire science workforce preparation pipeline.

Strategic partnerships: A key to success

Engaging all partners in a strategic way is key. AR will work with Rockford Public Schools (RPS), Rock Valley College (RVC), and the city via the Rockford Fire and Police departments ensure each partners contributes to the success.

AR will work with partners to develop career awareness early in grades K-8. In high school, students will enroll in Fire and Police pathways and earn articulated and dual credit at Rock Valley College. Meanwhile, Industry Councils will help with curriculum, work-based learning and career awareness, and balance the supply and demand for jobs and workers by identifying the gaps between the pipeline prep and existing workforce needs. Through a grant from the Rockford City Council, AR will create and manage the Industry Councils initially with a goal of institutionalizing the councils once they are well established.

To learn more about how the academies work, see the Alignment Rockford website at

Here is an article about the new project.

© Copyright 2018 Alignment USA