11/15/04 — Wayne Community College youth program recognized

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Wayne Community College youth program recognized

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 15, 2004 1:59 PM

The Wayne Community College Workforce Investment Act Out-of-School Youth Program has been recognized as outstanding for the third time in four years.

The program earned honors and a $3,000 award for outstanding performance from the Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, Inc. for 2003-2004. It met three of three performance measures on which the programs are judged: retention in education and employment, skill attainment (reading and math levels raised at least one grade) and high school diplomas earned.

The Workforce Investment Act Out-of-School Youth Program is a federal program that enrolls economically disadvantaged youth ages 16 through 21 and provides assistance with child care, transportation, tuition, fees, supplies, and books while they work on secondary education and employment training. Students may stay in the program until they reach their goals, as long as they make progress.

Twenty-nine students in WCC's program met their goals and earned General Educational Development, GED, or Adult High School diploma in the 2003-2004 school year.

WCC Program Director Denece Berry said the program's success and its growth have been steady. In 2001, 25 students were enrolled and now there are 112. This year, in addition to Ms. Berry and case worker Lea Thornton, a second case worker, Letitia Rawlinson, has been added.

"We can only see it getting better and better and better," Ms. Berry said.

"They are intelligent kids. All it takes is someone to push and say they care."

The program does more than aid students in earning a diploma. It also prepares them for careers and further education. Each person completes a job skills assessment and interest evaluation then develops his own strategy to reach his goals.

One-on-one mentoring with instructors, staff and volunteers is available. The occupational training component gives participants technical skills training, including the financial resources to take certification classes. Participants develop job skills through short-term work experiences. The program also helps students find year-round and summer employment and encourages them to take on leadership roles through community service opportunities.

Many students who have earned their diplomas keep up the momentum and enter college. One success story is a student who is not only working toward her associate degree but also was hired by the organization where she did her work experience for the WIA-Youth program.

Enrollment in WIA-Youth is ongoing, as is the need for adult volunteers to serve as mentors to the students. For more information, contact Ms. Berry at 735-5151, ext. 740.