Americans Helping Americans Implements Want2Work program

July 25, 2023

Americans Helping Americans Implements Want2Work program

July 25, 2023

Currently, Americans Helping Americans® provides grant support to our partner in McDowell County, West Virginia to pay for two tutors to work at the county’s Career and Technical Center to help students with their classwork, provide remedial assistance to those who need it, and more to ensure they stay on track to graduate and pass the exams they need for certification in their chosen career paths.

“I realize this is important, but I think we can do more,” says Americans Helping Americans® Executive Director Cameron Krizek, who this is year is implementing a new vocational educational program, called Want2Work.

The barriers to improving one’s professional status are exacerbated by poverty, however, for many their attempts to further their education and professional knowledge to change careers can often result in costs that they do not have the funds to pay.

There are likely thousands of women and men in Appalachia seeking to pursue a career as nurses and other healthcare professionals, or talented welders who are seeking to enter their dream career field, but cannot due to the fact that their current minimum wage job, or any one of numerous other barriers, are holding them back.

Through the Want2Work initiative, our partners organizations, vocational and technical schools within Appalachia may receive grants that can be awarded to students to purchase required items such as lab coats, smocks and various other types of professional equipment, as well as cover the costs for certification tests and any other miscellaneous expenses that are creating barriers to students pursuing a career path.

For example, we’ve heard from staff at the Lee County, Kentucky, Area Technology Center (ATC) who have reported to us about promising students who have had to drop out of its nursing program due to the cost of $200 fee for taking the certification test  and the $100 they need for nurse attire, and that’s on top of the cost for books – more than $600 – and the tuition itself of $625 per semester for three semesters.

Lee County ATC Principal Craig Herald is grateful to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® for the partnership “that will help our students have a successful transition into a high-wage career.”

On August 4, the ATC will be hosting a pre-start of school open house and staff is working with its feeder high schools so students can visit the technology center as they receive their schedules.

In addition, they are planning options for parents and community members for jobs and educational opportunities.

Among the organizations and partners participating in the open house are Carpenter and Millwright Unions, the commercial drivers license (CDL) program at the Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC), the KTECH (Kentucky Advanced Technical College High) Apprenticeship program at HCTC, the Army National Guard, and others.

In Lee County, Virginia, Career and Technical Center (CTC) Principal Mark Long, and administrator of Career and Technical Education (CTE) reported that this year 35 students have signed up, but less than half will finish the course.

However, of those who have completed the course, every single student who has graduated has earned a nursing job in the high-demand field in the country where healthcare and social assistance makes up the largest industries.

The immediate goal of the Want2Work program is to assist students and those interested in career changes with financial aid.

“The goal is to alleviate those burdens and keep students in the program while also increasing enrollment,” says Cameron. “Long term, I expect the median salary of the population to increase and reduce unemployment.”

As for Principal Herald at the ATC, who plans to announce the Americans Helping Americans® grant during the open house:

“I am looking forward to this partnership with Americans Helping Americans® and am very appreciative of the assistance and commitment Americans Helping Americans® has made toward helping our students be better equipped for high-demand, high-wage careers.”

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