"Amarillo College is adept at putting adult learners on the path to both academic and workforce success, and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is once again tapping AC’s expertise to lead a Panhandle-wide adult literacy initiative.
AC’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Program has been chosen for the second time this decade to administer a TWC grant of more than $1.1 million per year for up to five years to offer AEL programs to low-income residents.
The TWC’s multi-million-dollar Adult Education and Literacy Grant goes into effect on July 1.
The grant tasks AC with spearheading an educational consortium comprised of AC, Clarendon College and Frank Phillips College.
Consortium members will provide instruction in English, math, reading and writing to help adults acquire skills needed to earn high school equivalency, improve skills needed to succeed in the workplace, and/or enter college or career training.
The consortium will employ both traditional instruction and scaled distance-learning options to serve AEL students throughout the Panhandle, including rural areas.
Amarillo College was selected to administer a similar TWC grant in 2014, and the consortium subsequently served 6,326 individuals – 2,089 of whom obtained high school equivalency (GED) credentials and either joined the workforce, entered postsecondary education programs, or did both. Another 2,550 received English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.
“We are extremely pleased by the Texas Workforce Commission’s faith in our ability to successfully administer this vital grant,” said Jacqui Jones, director of AC’s Adult Education Literacy Project.
According to Jones, census data reveals that the Panhandle is home to some 56,000 individuals 18 or older who do not have secondary degrees and are not enrolled in school.
“Too many adults and families throughout the Texas Panhandle are inhibited by the low incomes that result from inadequate educational attainment,” Jones said.
Jones said Workforce Solutions Panhandle and the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission Workforce Development Division will partner with the consortium to provide support, counseling, employment or other non-instructional services.
Since 2014, in addition to building a solid foundation for far-reaching AEL services, Amarillo College also has achieved some prestigious recognition from the TWC.
In both 2016 and 2017, the College’s AEL Program won AEL Performance Quality Improvement Awards for College Integration from the TWC, which included monetary prizes totaling $85,000 – funds in addition to the grant.
Improving seamless integration of the AEL Program into the College mainstream has been a priority at AC for the past several years. AEL students receive equitable advising and thorough financial aid assistance. They also benefit from the presence of AEL support staff in mainstream classes, for which AC students can obtain College credit at the same time they complete requirements for developmental classes they may need.
Additionally, AC established a chapter of the National Adult Education Honor Society in 2017, and more than 50 AEL students have been inducted thus far.
“We hope that our previous success in the administration of this grant, while gratifying, will serve as a springboard,” Jones said. “Rather than rest on our laurels, we hope to build on the foundation we’ve established and apply what we’ve learned toward even greater successes in the future."