Chicago Welcome Back Center Launches Today at Arturo Velasquez Institute, Supporting Immigrants with Professional Degrees

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The Chicago Welcome Back Center will guide students who are internationally educated and licensed nurses through the credential and licensing process to be able to work as a nurse (RN) or a health professional in Illinois.

CHICAGO—(August 16, 2022)—City Colleges of Chicago and Richard J. Daley College, in partnership with the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium, announce the opening of the Chicago Welcome Back Center (CWBC) at 10:00 am on August 16 at the Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Avenue in Chicago.

The Center will support immigrants with professional degrees obtained abroad so that they may re-enter their profession or establish a related career in the state of Illinois.

With equity as a pillar of City Colleges’ strategic plan, this program strives to support economic development in Illinois and Chicago, and to help Illinois’ employers gain diversity and equity in their organizations.

CWBC will serve as a regional center of information, resources, and support. This program is a partnership with the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium, supporting immigrants and refugees who would like to achieve Illinois licensure in nursing to work in the healthcare sector.

“With Chicago being among the most diverse cities in the country, we are very excited about the tremendous opportunity of the Chicago Welcome Back Center to work with its immigrant communities, improve their income potential, build on their many assets, and service the healthcare needs of our residents,” said Richard J. Daley College President Dr. Janine Janosky.

“After the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium (CBNC) met with Dr. Jose Ramon Fernandez Pena, the Founder of the Welcome Back Initiative, I’m thrilled to collaborate with him and City Colleges of Chicago on the opening of the first Welcome Back Center in the Midwest,” said Jenny Aguirre, BS, MBA and Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium Board Chair. “The Center will be a rich resource for the 1.7 million foreign-born people in Illinois, many of whom wish to bridge their professional careers. Bringing international educated healthcare professionals into the workforce provides for safer care for our immigrant patient population.”

The Chicago Welcome Back Center program is based on the national Welcome Back Initiative’s model, and will assist participants in exploring and pursuing alternative careers in healthcare while they are on the path towards licensure. The Center will offer case management and support services, as well as referrals to educational, community, and professional programs and organizations. With equity as one of its guiding principles, the program will also work to support economic development in Illinois and Chicago, as well as help Illinois’ employers gain diversity and equity in their organizations.

“The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium (CBNC) has assisted Internationally Educated Nurses to pursue licensure for 20 years.  CBNC decided to expand to other internationally educated healthcare professionals,” said Fran LaMonica, MS, RN, CBNC Executive Director. “Thanks to the generosity of the Walder Foundation, we are proud to partner with the National Welcome Back Initiative and Daley College of the Chicago City Colleges to provide expanded services through the Chicago Welcome Back Center.”

Program Eligibility

  • Must be a licensed as a nurse outside of the U.S.
  • Reside in Illinois and are a legal U.S. resident

Requirements for a Nursing License (RN) in Illinois

  • Documentation of licensure in country where you received your nursing education
  • Documentation of education equivalency
  • Documentation of passage of the National Licensing Examination (NCLEX)
  • Documentation of English proficiency

In Illinois, about 52,000 immigrants hold at least a four-year college degree in medical and health sciences and services. Approximately 12,000, or 22%, of this number are working in low-skilled jobs, or out of work as a result of credential-recognition difficulties, limited English proficiency, and other barriers. Nursing is the most common degree held by those whose skills are underutilized. For more information visit www.ccc.edu/welcomeback.