CHICAGO, April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Grainger (NYSE: GWW), the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) products serving businesses and institutions, today announced the expansion of its Grainger Tools for Tomorrow® scholarship program to offer financial assistance to qualified students enrolled in public safety programs. Public safety is one of the fastest growing fields of study at community colleges. According to a 2013 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students choosing homeland security, law enforcement or fire safety programs increased 174 percent between 2000 and 2011. In support of the growing need for public safety professionals, Grainger believed it was important to offer scholarships to students pursuing careers in law enforcement, emergency preparedness, emergency medical services and fire safety. "We have the privilege of providing products and services to many first responder and public safety organizations," said Ben Nichols, vice president with Grainger. "With this comes a unique perspective and appreciation for what these women and men face on a daily basis. We are proud to expand this scholarship program, especially as interest in public safety continues to grow." Grainger works with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to highlight the importance of community colleges and their programs. Grainger offers qualified community college students financial scholarships in industrial skilled trade programs, including plumbing, welding, automotive and HVAC. Nearly 650 students earned Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarships since the program's inception in 2006. "Grainger's support of students in industrial trade and public safety programs makes it easier for those interested in these careers to get the information and training needed to join the workforce. In an increasingly competitive global economy, America's economic strength depends on the education and skills of its workers," says Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College. In addition to expanding the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship focus, Grainger also has invited 25 new community college partners to participate in the program. The company now will offer a total of 250 scholarships, of $2,000 each, starting in the 2014-2015 school year. One half of these scholarships are reserved for U.S. military veteran students. The invitation to 25 new schools and expansion to include scholarships for students in public safety programs represent the program's largest expansion since 2010, when Grainger doubled the number of scholarships offered. For more information about the Grainger Tool for Tomorrow® scholarship program, please visit www.graingercsr.com/skilledtrades. Learn more about how businesses and community colleges can work together to boost local workforce development by downloading an interactive skilled trades playbook at www.skilledtradesplaybook.org. About GraingerW.W. Grainger, Inc., with 2013 sales of $9.4 billion, is North America's leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with operations in Asia, Europe and Latin America. SOURCE W.W. Grainger, Inc.