Metallica Foundation Gives Valencia $50,000 to Provide Jobs Training

Orlando, FL — For the second year, Valencia College has been selected from a competitive field of community colleges across the country to receive $50,000 from Metallica’s foundation to transform the future of students in the community.

Funded by Metallica’s All Within My Hands (AWMH) and led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Metallica Scholars Initiative was designed to directly support students while also elevating the importance of career and technical education. This work is highlighted at a global level by leveraging the influence of Metallica who continue to speak out on the dignity of professional trades and community colleges that prepare students.

The Metallica Scholars Initiative is now in its third year and has fundamentally improved the earning potential for students who become Metallica Scholars. Valencia College will again prioritize scholarships for unemployed individuals and those who are underemployed – providing them with training to become welders, heavy construction equipment operators, industrial maintenance technicians or commercial truck drivers.  Metallica Scholars will be showcased to promote varying skilled trade pathways as a means to economic development.

Recipients of Metallica scholarships in 2019-2020 include Emma Lynn Ponds, a 22-year-old who completed Valencia’s welding program and is now working at a local manufacturer. Emma Lynn hopes to use her earnings to help lift her family out of poverty.

The training that students receive in the programs is life-changing. Jessica Sylvester, 23, had been working in a south Orlando fulfillment warehouse, earning about $15 an hour, when she signed up for Valencia’s mechatronics program. Thanks to the Metallica scholarship and a Valencia scholarship, Sylvester paid nothing for the classes – and received a job offer before graduation. Today, she earns $21.50 an hour, working as a technician at Walgreens distribution center, where she repairs and maintains conveyor belts, hydraulic systems and pneumatic systems.

Jessica Sylvester celebrates upon learning she was named a Metallica Scholar in September 2020.

“It’s interesting and challenging,” says Sylvester. “Every day you’re learning something new. I’m new, but even the senior techs that I work with say they’re always learning. To me, that’s the challenging aspect.”

“The Metallica Scholars Initiative helps Valencia to connect students with high demand high wage careers in the trades,” says Carolyn McMorran, assistant vice president of professional & continuing education at Valencia College. “Highlighting the great career options that are available in these fields, allows students an opportunity to pursue career paths that improve their quality of life.”

Each Metallica Scholar’s story is unique – and All Within My Hands highlights their accomplishments. “The foundation and the band pay attention and follow these programs and students, and there is no doubt that lives have been changed. What makes this work so unique is that in addition to supporting students directly, our goal is not just to change individual lives, it is to unabashedly promote the trades as meaningful and well-paying career pathways. We are not afraid to be loud nor to dig in on things we believe in, and we believe in these students,” said Dr. Edward Frank, executive director of AWMH.

“We are proud to work with Metallica to advance the career and technical education provided by the nation’s community colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO.  “Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students. These programs are responsive to the needs of local businesses and provide a pipeline of qualified workers to local industry.  It’s a win-win for our students and the local economy. For Metallica to continue to invest in these students and communities is a testament to the power of the workforce education community colleges provide and we are proud to do this work with them.”

James Hetfield, Metallica’s vocalist/guitarist and co-founder said, “As a touring entity we are in direct involvement with multiple essential career choices along our path. From electrical, professional driving, culinary, mechanical maintenance, public safety, logistical organizers. And that just scratches the surface. Those, along with a multitude of other technical careers, make our touring and our performances possible. We are passionate and grateful to these trades and tradespeople.”

To learn more about Valencia’s Metallica Scholars Initiative and how you could become a Metallica Scholar, please visit

The MSI sites to date are:

  • Northwest-Shoals Community College, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
  • Pima County Community College, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Hartnell College, Salinas, Calif.
  • Victor Valley College, Victorville, Calif.
  • Polk State College, Winter Haven, Fla.
  • Valencia College, Orlando, Fla.
  • North Idaho College, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Clinton Community College, Clinton, Iowa
  • College of Lake County, Grayslake, Ill.
  • Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, Wichita, Kan.
  • Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Elizabethtown, Ky.
  • Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore, Md.
  • Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Central Community College, Grand Island, Neb.
  • Westchester Community College, Valhalla, N.Y.
  • Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, Ore.
  • Columbia Gorge Community College, The Dalles, Ore.
  • Lone Star College, The Woodlands, Tex.
  • Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, Va.
  • Spokane Community College, Spokane, Wash.
  • Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisc.
  • West Virginia University Parkersburg, Parkersburg, W.Va.