GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Legendary heavy metal band Metallica is giving back to Grand Rapids — again.
Grand Rapids Community College was granted a third round of scholarship funds from the band to send students through the welding program.
It isn’t just a scholarship. It’s an opportunity for nontraditional students to have a bright future with in-demand skills.
“All of those people that don’t fit the Ivy League road to success, we want a place for them,” Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield said in a video posted online. “We feel that our music is that place for the forgotten, the invisible kids, the misfit-type people that don’t think they fit in.”
Metallica’s nonprofit, called All Within My Hands, funds the majority of the scholarships. The first donation of $100,000 was announced in December 2018. This time around, the nonprofit provided $25,000. In all, close to 60 students at GRCC — about 30 per year — have benefited.
“Students that wouldn’t normally be able to afford college are able to enroll in these programs,” Nick Pinckney, who heads the welding program at GRCC, said.
He said he has watched people with no idea what welding was finish the program with a new passion and career.
“It’s changing lives,” he said. “It’s putting people in a healthy situation so they can feed their families.”
It’s not just their families. GRCC says there is a huge need for welders in West Michigan and around the country.
“We have automotive, we have furniture, we have other manufacturing, a lot of machine builders, a lot of tool and die,” Pinkney listed. “All of these companies use welding and need welders.”
“Being able to highlight and love and to shine some heroism, some thank yous to all these skills that are lifelong is pretty important for us,” Hetfield said.