Heartland and YouthBuild team up to promote lifelong learning

With the motto, Your Path to Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education at HCC is all about advancing education well beyond school

With the motto, Your Path to Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education at HCC is all about advancing education well beyond school

 “Just because you’ve earned a diploma doesn’t mean you’re done learning,” explains Continuing Education Director Angie Coughlin.

That logic is being applied to YouthBuild McLean County, a charter school that works with at-risk students to provide pathways to jobs, education, entrepreneurship and other opportunities that lead to productive and contributing livelihoods. YouthBuild McLean County has served more 2,000 youths since 1994, helping guide them towards obtaining a GED, job or other productive path.

With support from AmeriCorps, students often graduate from YouthBuild with scholarships to continue their education. However, according to YouthBuild’s Director of Development Alicia Lenard, a majority of students aren’t ready to take the higher education degree route, saying, “There’s a bit of fear about college among some of our alumni, likely because it’s unfamiliar territory." 

Forming a Partnership

Ariel Thompson

Ariel Thompson

To help students make good use of their scholarship dollars and continue their education, Lenard reached out to Heartland’s Continuing Education department. Working together, YouthBuild and Heartland developed Bridge, a program that offers a short-term college experience to help get YouthBuild alumni acclimated to higher education.

Bridge includes a mix of online and traditional classroom curriculum for a variety of concentrations, including welding, building management and maintenance, food service sanitation, customer service for the restaurant industry, pharmacy tech and information technology. Each program takes less than a month to complete and students can choose the focus that best meets their interest. At the end of the program, participants are given credentials related to their area of focus.

YouthBuild alumna Ariel Thompson (’15) is looking forward to putting her scholarship dollars to good use in the pharmacy tech program. “I’ve always wanted a better future for me and my son,” she said. “This program is attractive in terms of salary and stability. People will always need medicine.”

Getting a Full College Experience

To help students get accustomed to college, all classes are taken on the Heartland campus, including the online portions which are done in one of the College’s computer labs. Classes include Heartland Continuing Education instructors as well as representatives from YouthBuild. Lenard and Coughlin feel this keeps students within reach of their comfort zone.

“A lot of these students have had a negative experience with public education and it takes them a while to trust people,” explained Lenard. “This partnership allows for plenty of independence while still having structure and familiar people in place.”

“A lot of these students have had a negative experience with public education and it takes them a while to trust people,” explained Lenard. “This partnership allows for plenty of independence while still having structure and familiar people in place.”

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Coughlin adds that Continuing Education’s intent is to make Bridge participants feel like Heartland students. “They’re getting student IDs, access to the fitness center, bus passes and other benefits Heartland students get. We want them to feel comfortable in the education environment.”

To contribute to the full college experience, Bridge programs include guest speakers as well as visits from deans and department chairs throughout the College.

Empowering Students

Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes

Lenard notes that in addition to furthering their education, Bridge can help students move up in their jobs.

“Once students earn their credentials, employers are going to see they’ve taken steps to make themselves better. Overall, it will make them more employable or increase their marketability.”

Bridge kicked off Monday, June 12 with an orientation that included more than 30 participants. Lenard and Coughlin anticipate Bridge will be a highly successful program and plan to continue it throughout the year with new groups of students.

“This program empowers students because it’s their money,” stated Lenard. “If they want to take a course, they’re going to be recruiting others to take it with them because if we don’t get a certain amount enrolled, the class won’t happen.”

It also empowers students to choose their own path of education. Bridge participant Larry Holmes (’14) is excited to learn more about welding. “I don’t know too much about it, but from what I’ve heard, it seems interesting. I like working with my hands so I think it will be a good choice for me.”

“Truly, students are choosing their destination and we’re here to help them be successful,” said Coughlin.

 

Written by: Becky Gropp

See more at: http://www.heartland.edu/news/2017

The Bed Blitz

The Bed Blitz is a Tool Library community project where we will be building beds for over 40 children in the Mclean County area. To make this event a success, we need the help of individuals and groups around the community to attend our Bed Blitz event on Saturday October 15th. There will be three shifts throughout the day and you can sign up to help build a bed (no construction experience required!) as an individual or sign up as a group! 

DATE: 10/15/2016 (SAT.)

LOCATION: YOUTHBUILD - 360 WYLIE DRIVE NORMAL, IL

Money smart: Students gain real-world financial knowledge

NORMAL — Students at YouthBuild McLean County were eager to gain some real-world knowledge on Friday.

In honor of financial literacy month, more than 70 State Farm Bank employees spent the day with 100 YouthBuild students, giving mini-lessons on financial education, including banking, car purchasing, car insurance, home and rental insurance, credit cards and future finances...Continue Reading.

YouthBuild brings alternative education opportunities for adolescents

YouthBuild of McLean County offers at-risk youth an alternative option to get the education they need, serving over 2,000 at-risk youth since its inception in 1994.

“YouthBuild is basically an alternative school for at-risk youth,” public awareness intern Mitch Combs said. “Kids come to us who haven’t had opportunities to go to school in a conventional area or they are not able to adapt to a traditional school.”

YouthBuild is a nonprofit youth development organization that is the umbrella for YouthBuild McLean County Charter School, which partners with the Unit 5 School District, and there is also a private school, YouthBuild Academy, that provides education for youths outside of the Unit 5 district.. Continue Reading

ISU/YouthBuild partnership empowers young adults, develops educators

School of Teaching and Learning Associate Professor Erin Mikulec is passionate about engaging new communities and cultures in the U.S. and across the globe, from England to Finland to Australia. She utilizes international experiences to enrich her teacher education courses, and also leads study abroad trips each summer. But she says her exploration of Bloomington-Normal has proven to be just as valuable as some of her overseas jaunts....Continue Reading

YouthBuild instructor Kevin Bradley and Illinois State Associate Professor Erin Mikulec.

YouthBuild instructor Kevin Bradley and Illinois State Associate Professor Erin Mikulec.