Loss of United Way funding for GED Program
The recent notice of the loss of funding for the GED Program at the Greater Stark County Urban League is disheartening. At a time when education has been stressed as the gateway to improved employment opportunities, it seems counterintuitive to remove a program in an area of the county that has been hardest hit by the ravages of poor educational outcomes. In the neighborhoods served by the Urban League, the rate of adults without a high school diploma reaches percentages as high as one in three. That is to say, every third parent does not have the basic tool to hope to find a living wage job. That many of these parents were not successful in navigating the education system, yet they are charged with assisting their children to do so. And that these are the parents that we charge with assisting their children with homework and reading to them 20 min. a day to improve the child’s reading proficiency. Parents are a child’s first teacher and an unprepared parent will in all likelihood deliver an unprepared child or children.
That being said, United Way’s decision was based on a stern reality. The proposal that was submitted clearly stated that successfully passing the official state test was the main goal of the program. That was an error in writing the proposal. The proposal should have stressed the outcomes that we could address, tracking program participants progress, encouraging them to continue in their studies, working with them to make gains in specific areas that would most likely produce positive outcomes, including finding a job or enrolling in a trade, obtaining subject matter proficiency that would enable them to move into higher education, or obtaining their GED. The proposal submitted fell into the classic mistake made by writers of over-committing to an outcome that the program does not control. A client that will drop-out of high school will drop out of a program, regardless of the best efforts of the program administrator.
The error in writing the proposal is even more frustrating because of our understanding of the clients we serve. A very small percentage of our new clients ever come in saying that they want to get their GED. Most come in saying they want/need a job. Improved education was a means to an end. Because of some community partners we were able to find them employment with the expectation that they would continue their education. That did not happen. Finding clients a job became the single biggest cause of them dropping out of the program. However, we also know that bringing an income is an immediate need to most of the parents we serve.
Our goal now is to find some immediate source of revenue to replace the United Way funds so that we can continue to offer the service. We fully intend to resubmit for funding for our education program and will certainly take this lesson learned to create a more practical proposal that will do a better job of matching the outcomes to our client base.
For information regarding GED classes and schedules, contact Greater Stark County Urban League at 330-456-3479.