Who We Serve

The Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Consortium benefits a variety of students. Target participants for BIB programs may include for instance a laid off steel mill worker in Granite City, IL, a Head Start parent in East Saint Louis, IL, as well as a farmer or rural worker in various areas of the state and the region. Additionally, BIB aims to improve the lives of plant laborers such as assemblers, machinists, inspectors, or general production workers, offering them opportunities for continued training and connections to employers.

Key target populations include:

leafTrade Adjustment Assistance Eligible Workers

The Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Consortium recognizes that on average, Illinois TAA workers are out of work for nearly two years. The extended layoff time is primarily due to a significant gap between the workers’ skills and the requirements of a new position, many having worked in the same job for all or most of their careers using a very limited ability set related directly to their occupation, having acquired only limited technical knowledge, and not having had a chance to adapt to new work contexts. The Consortium strives to ensure that the skills gap is eliminated and workforce integration barriers are removed through flexible, stackable programs and strong support services.

leafUnemployed, Underemployed, and Displaced Workers

The TAACCCT grant program allows the Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Consortium to assist U.S. workers who have lost or at risk of losing their jobs due to foreign trade and other circumstances. Through the partnership between colleges, adversely affected workers are given access to education in order to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary to become re-employed or fully employed. With the BIB higher education partners offering fast-tracked, two year or less degree programs and certificates, participants in Consortium programs are able to complete the required training to enter a high wage career.


Representatives from the Veterans Assistance Commissions foresee an increased demand for veteran training options due to the Department of Defense draw-down in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2018. By giving the regional veteran population priority access to concentrated, streamlined training programs, the Consortium enables them to return to school and receive the education needed to obtain living wage jobs in the high-demand bioeconomy industry

Key Characteristics of BIB Consortium Target Populations

Participants in BIB Consortium activities may differ greatly in terms of their stages as learners and their needs. They can be traditional university students freshly out of high school, transfer students strengthening their community college credentials with hands-on experiences or articulating their community college certifications into four year degrees, as well as adult learners.

Given the numerous possible profiles of the participants in BIB Consortium activities at SIUE, the Hawthorne Strategy Group, which is the technical assistance provider for Public Relations and Marketing for the Consortium, has helped conceptualize target audiences by classifying them into the traditional student, betterment, and immediate need categories:

BIB audiences

The traditional student category typically comprises incoming freshmen who have just graduated from high school, have less concerns about money and time needed for school, and instead have more concerns about fitting in a program and being realistic about employment at the end of a program. The traditional student category includes young people who, as most millennials, tend to search for programs that fit their ideals, leading to a sense of fulfillment, and who also seek to enter the workforce well prepared with academic qualifications as well as hands-on experiences.

The betterment audience is the most diverse, encompassing transfer students, former students, middle-aged parents, various underprivileged groups, overall those aiming for career advancement or career change. These are students who might be involved in TAACCCT grant-related activities for a period of six months to two years, who seek to maintain employment and continue to earn a living while going or returning to school, and who may benefit from stacking credentials.

The immediate need audience is broad, but individuals in this category are unified by the necessity to gain employment quickly and increase their paycheck power while maintaining benefits and identifying resources. These students are only involved in training activities for short periods of time, resulting in either non-credit units or certificates.  

Upward Bound Students