Grant Helps Adults Get Education
A new alternative, educational program is available for youth and adult students residing in Navajo County and Apache County, Arizona. The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, or I-BEST is funded by a grant of $84,474 from the Arizona Department of Education Adult Services Division. Northland Pioneer College in partnership with the Navajo and Apache County Workforce provide the training for students enrolled in the Building Homes–Building Futures project.
The objective of the Building Homes-Building Futures project is to teach approximately 30 students over the age of sixteen the skills needed to work in the construction industry. The program targets adults with lower levels of education and youth who are interested in an accelerated path for employment. Along with basic academic instruction, the program covers current trends such as differentiating materials, techniques and trends that are used when constructing green buildings or energy efficient structures. After a period of instruction, students have the opportunity to apply what they have learned by building an energy-efficient home. When the house is completed, the Office of Housing and Urban development assist Northland Pioneer College in selling the newly constructed home. The proceeds for the sale provide funding for future Building Homes-Building Futures projects.
Once the students successfully complete their three-semester project, they are awarded their General Education Development (GED) certificate. In addition, the students are issued certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) a recognized non-profit training organization within the industry. The NCCER certificates earned by the students are in the area of Core Curriculum and the area of Construction Technology. Along with the GED certificate and NCCER, the students receive the National Career Readiness certification and the stackable OSHA-10, a certificate that adds industry-related skills as the student becomes more knowledgeable in their field.
A precursor to the Building Homes-Building Futures project is the Holbrook Community Garden project. From May – July 2014, The Holbrook Community Garden participants learned and applied skills needed to grow and maintain the various plant life found in gardens. Like the Building Homes-Building Futures project, the garden project is a collaboration of organizations whose objectives include providing opportunities for those living in distressed environments and possessing lower levels of education. Community involvement contributed to the success of the project. In addition, several of the students involved with the garden project are active participants in the Building Homes-Building Futures project and several of the past participants are currently employed in the construction industry; an indicator that the projects are having an positive impact on participants.
The Building Homes-Building Futures project has helped increase enrollment by 5.4 percent for Northland Pioneer College. The projects are an alternative path for those looking for a non-traditional education program. In the future, projects and courses that strengthen basic academic skills and focus on developing applied skills will continue to increase the enrollment and may change the college from a traditional to a non-traditional institute of higher learning.