The Whitley County school district has agreed to take part in a pilot project, which is designed to help some local low-income residents increase their employment opportunities.
During its monthly meeting Thursday, the Whitley County Board of Education approved a memorandum of agreement in order to receive a $54,946 adult education grant through the Paths 2 Promise program.
Paths 2 Promise is a new program in eight eastern Kentucky counties that teams up state and local agencies to help increase employment among residents who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
Partners in the Paths 2 Promise pilot project include the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), the Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment branded as the Kentucky Career Centers (KCC), Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE), and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), according to an EKCEP news release.
“Paths 2 Promise will help us determine how we can best assist a segment of our workforce in getting on the right track to rewarding and sustaining careers through a combination of services provided by our partner agencies,” said Traci Nolen, project manager for EKCEP. “This really is an inclusive effort to solving issues with employment in our service area, and one that we hope will be a model for the rest of the nation.”
Partners and employers in the Promise Zone counties, which include Whitley, Knox, Bell, Harlan, Clay Letcher, Leslie and Perry counties, will coordinate to help educate and skill up participants through work-based learning opportunities, internships, and on-the-job-training (OJT), as well as educational and training programs.
Eligible participants in the pilot include current SNAP recipient work registrants who are deemed eligible by the DCBS. Involvement in the program is voluntary and participants will not lose benefits if they decline to participate in Paths 2 Promise.
The program began March 1. SNAP work registrants can enroll for one of the open slots in the program. Participants will be randomly split into the expanded services or general services group.
“People who enroll in Paths 2 Promise really have nothing to lose by participating, but possibly quite a lot to gain,” Nolen explained. “Slots in this pilot are limited, so I encourage anyone interested in getting help to go back to school, getting certified for a new career path, or finding full-time employment to contact us as soon as possible.”
Whitley and Bell County residents with questions regarding the program can contact Martha Williams at (606) 337-3044, ext. 207.
Knox County residents with questions can contact Candace Smith at (606) 546-2639, ext. 16.
Also during Thursday’s monthly meeting, Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett informed the school board that the district was one of 111 in the state that were recognized for meeting or exceeding its goals for meeting college or career-readiness goals for high school graduates.
In 2011, all school districts were asked to sign the Commonwealth Commitment to College and Career Readiness, which was a commitment to increase their college and career readiness rate by 50 percent by the year 2015, Trickett explained.
“Not only did we meet our commitment, we more than tripled our college and career-readiness rate from 2010 to 2015. The state average just barely doubled but our school district more than tripled,” she added.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a two-year contract with Project Fit America for a broad-based fitness in education model that is sponsored locally by Baptist Health Corbin. The program will be implemented at Oak Grove Elementary School.
“There is some equipment that comes with this grant. There are couple other schools in the area that has these,” explained Superintendent Scott Paul.
• Presented Whitley North Elementary School teacher Will Hackler with the March Above and Beyond Award for his work with students, who have Little to no English Proficiency (LEP).
• Approved participation in the annual school nutrition summer feeding program, which is an annual program that provides free nutritional meals to students in the summer time when school is no longer in session.