Berkshire Career Center by ert41610

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									                                          POT D

Question 1—Description of Status of Berkshire P-21 Team

       The Berkshire Pathway-21 Team was organized prior to the submission of the

Strategic Plan in 2005 and participated in the steps taken, such as arranging for youth

focus groups and resource mapping, to supply input. The P-21 Team met at least three

times to brainstorm goals and strategies and to approve the final written plan.

       The entire Berkshire Pathway-21 Team meets on a quarterly basis and invites

representatives of the following groups of agencies:

 WORKFORCE/EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES: Berkshire Regional Employment

   Board and Berkshire Works Career Center

 EDUCATION: Pittsfield Public Schools; Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department

   through the Juvenile Resource Center (JRC); Pittsfield Adult Learning Center;

   Northern Berkshire ABE; and Berkshire Community College (Perkins provider)

 STATE AGENCIES: Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Department of

   Youth Services; Department of Social Services; Department of Mental Health; and

   Department of Transitional Assistance

 COMMUNITY NGO’S: Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC); Brigham

   Center; Berkshire United Way; Northern Berkshire United Way; Northern Berkshire

   Community Coalition; Railroad Street Youth Project; Berkshire Children and Family

   Center; Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club; and the Catholic Youth Center

 YOUTH VOICE: Pittsfield Youth Commission; Youth Works Summer Program

   participants and Youth Council representatives
       In addition to the all-inclusive membership described above, a sub-group has

developed to form the RECONNECT Initiative to focus on drawing in youth to take

advantage of employment, educational, and support service options and opportunities.

The RECONNECT Initiative focuses on the continuum of the in-school, at-risk

population, to those who have just dropped out, to those who have been disconnected for

several years. It will also offer support to those who have completed a GED, HS

Diploma, or High School Equivalency.

       This RECONNECT Initiative’s working group consists of the Berkshire County

Regional Employment Board (BCREB), Berkshire Works, the Pittsfield Adult Learning

Center, the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department/Pittsfield Public Schools through their

joint Juvenile Resource Center (JRC) venture, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation

Commission (MRC), Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) including its Youth

Build initiative, the Brigham Center, and the Pittsfield Youth Commission (interface with

Pittsfield youth). This working group began with Project RECONNECT, a well-

advertised 2-day event, supported by community leaders, designed to attract and motivate

youth towards getting back on track educationally and/or vocationally.

       The P-21 team has come together to form the Berkshire Pathway-21 Network.

Member agencies have letters on file at the BCREB confirming participation. A draft

handbook describing the network’s mission, organization, and offerings was

disseminated in June 2007. Subsequent updated editions will be provided as dynamics

shift and the Network evolves.

       Through the efforts of the Berkshire P-21 Network and its RECONNECT

Initiative, the following developments have occurred:
 Streamlined interagency referral process—interagency cooperation and

  communication are hallmarks of the Berkshire service system. By bringing the

  appropriate team members together around the Strategic Plan, Project RECONNECT,

  and ongoing planning, the members better collaborate around individual youth and

  work to brainstorm service initiatives such as the On-the-Job Mentoring (OJM)

  capability, Youth Build, and the future prospects of a RECONNECT Center.

 Establishment of Building Trades Pathway and Youth Build—Youth Build was

  established as a pilot program for 5 youth over the 2006-7 school year with

  Commonwealth Corporation funding and local investment of monies (e.g. Berkshire

  United Way, City of Pittsfield) and in-kind service (e.g., Adult Learning Center,

  Taconic High School; Habitat for Humanity). A Program Coordinator is in place under

  the Berkshire Community Action Council, and he has made contacts with unions and

  businesses in this sector. A Federal Grant Proposal was submitted on July 3, 2007 with

  the hope that the Berkshire Region could expand to a full-fledged 3 year Youth Build

  site. The Berkshire P-21 planning team hopes to nurture Youth Build for at least 1

  additional school year with local resources since the region was not awarded this

  Federal funding. The Berkshire Community Action Council plans to reapply for this

  funding in January 2009.

 Establishment of P-21 Youth Works summer work sites—Through the efforts of the P-

  21 Team and its Youth Consultant, 2 work sites were used for the summer Youth

  Works program, one in the Health/Human Services pathway (Berkshire ARC) and one

  in the Hospitality/Customer Services Pathway (the Crowne Plaza). Five out-of-school

  youth completed the summer program.
 Establishment of Training Site for Hospitality Customer Service Pathway—The

  Crowne Plaza has agreed to provide a training site for one youth to learn to be a desk

  clerk. Wages would be paid through Berkshire Works (Title 1 WIA funds), or by the

  P-21 grant if the youth is not Title 1 eligible.

 Commitment of Interested Employers in Health/Human Services Pathway—Berkshire

  ARC, Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, Berkshire Health Systems, and

  Hillcrest Educational Services have met with representatives of the P-21 Network and

  are amenable to efforts to recruit and retain youth as entry level employees; including

  those willing to be trained as C.N.A’s. In addition, the BCREB was awarded a

  $500,000 three-year Workforce Competitive Trust Fund grant in 2007 to provide

  career ladder opportunities for incumbent healthcare workers (i.e. Certified Nursing

  Assistants) and to tap into the educational system to attract more youth to the

  Healthcare field. Called Project H.E.A.L.T.H., the Program Director is a member of

  the RECONNECT Initiative and has already connected with P-21 eligible youth both

  in-school and out-of-school regarding the opportunities this grant has to offer - paid

  release time for training/school and college tuition coverage.

 Development of an On-the-Job Mentoring Capability—The P-21 Network received

  funding from Berkshire Bank Foundation to pilot an On-the-Job Mentoring (OJM)

  capability, whereby senior employees can act as a job coach on the job as well as a

  counselor/advisor to make the youth’s entry into the workplace and the company

  culture a success. A pre-arranged mentoring plan spells out the mentoring period, the

  remuneration for the mentor, and mutual responsibilities. The desired outcome is that

  the youth is hired for the indefinite future as validated by an employer sign-off.
 Establishment of the RECONNECT Initiative—The RECONNECT Initiative was born

  out of Project RECONNECT, the 2-day event designed to attract un/under enrolled

  and/or un/underemployed youth, especially those who had not taken the initiative to

  pass through the normal portals such as the career center and the ABE programs. The

  working group from the P-21 Team will make this effort to find and attract older at-

  risk youth an ongoing one, with hopes to focus more on early intervention strategies

  and the possible development of a RECONNECT Center.



Question 2—Description of P-21 Team Goals through June 30, 2009

PROCESS GOALS:

 The Pathway-21 Team will meet quarterly to oversee a coordinated approach to the

  target youth population. A user-friendly handbook will be updated as needed.



 The RECONNECT Initiative will be ongoing and will continue to evolve. Project

  RECONNECT - the 2-day event that took place in September 2007 will be repeated at

  least annually in the Fall. Discussion is underway as to whether to have a similar event

  each spring that revolves around the Career Fair that is hosted by the Chamber of

  Commerce. Participating youth will attend resume writing, interviewing and dress-for-

  success workshops at Berkshire Works Career Center and outreach by local social

  service representatives and P-21 Network affiliates will be conducted the day before

  the Career Fair. Like Project RECONNECT, the intent is for youth to be prepared to

  explore their most appropriate career direction, to best market themselves, and/or to

  secure employment at the Career Fair.
 The RECONNECT working group is consistently focusing on ways to attract more

  youth to the available offerings in the Network. Concrete efforts will begin with the

  Pittsfield Public Schools to redouble efforts to dissuade youth from dropping out,

  perhaps prior to the signing of withdrawal papers, by exposing youth to the outside-of-

  school landscape before going through with the withdrawal. In addition, funds in Pot E

  will be used as incentives for youth to return to a diploma track (e.g., offering driver’s

  education as an inducement at the Adult Learning Center).



 Case Management capability will be enhanced by the addition of the resources in Pot

  E. The nexus between job placement specialists (e.g., Berkshire Works, JRC) and

  adult education (e.g., ABE providers and Berkshire Community College) will be

  strengthened by added staff time.



OUTCOME GOALS:

 The On-the-Job Mentoring (OJM) capability to help recruit and retain youth

  employees will serve 15 youth and it will develop ongoing partnerships with at least 4

  employers in 2008. The program will be evaluated and, if it is as successful as we

  envision, we hope to expand to at least 8 employers by June 30, 2009 and serve as

  many youth as the funds will cover. A recruitment and training capability for in-house

  mentors will be facilitated with partner employers. The BCREB was awarded a

  Berkshire Bank Foundation grant in 2007 for the OJM component and it will continue

  to seek out additional funding opportunities for this program in 2008.
 The RECONNECT Initiative will dissuade at least 10% of high school youth from

  dropping out at the point of potential withdrawal. It will make contact with all youth

  who have withdrawn as soon as possible. A visible point or points of drop-in will be

  well-advertised for those youth who have dropped out.



 Youth Build will remain a viable program, with 10 slots, through June 30, 2009 and

  will spearhead contacts with the building trades sector. Berkshire Youth Build plans to

  submit another federal grant application for the next round of funding in January 2009.



 A placement capability will be developed within the RECONNECT Initiative to

  connect youth referred from the Adult Learning Center, Juvenile Resource Center

  and/or the two public high schools to educational and occupational training

  opportunities available, and will assist with the development of each P-21 youth’s

  Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP).



 The individualized Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP) capability will be put

  in place to assist individual P-21 youth with educational and career goals and to devise

  the strategies needed to pursue those goals. These strategies could include providing

  tuition into training programs or to driver education classes. They could include

  assignment of a paid mentor or career coach for a designated period.



Question 3—Generic Pathway Design

IN-SCHOOL:
       At-risk youth are identified through guidance offices and normal in-school efforts

are made to retain them. Pittsfield has the highest dropout rate in the Berkshire Region

and therefore has in place a fast growing effort to prevent a further increase in dropout

numbers. The major prevention initiative is the Juvenile Resource Center, a joint venture

between the Pittsfield Public Schools and the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department.

The goal of the program is to 1) help young people stay in school and receive a high

school diploma and 2) participate in job readiness and placement leading to successful

independent living. The JRC is a major player in the P-21 Network and its RECONNECT

Initiative and is a growing force, as it has begun to accept referrals from other school

districts, most notably from North Adams, where the dropout rate is second only to

Pittsfield. In addition, the JRC is positioned to work closely with the Adult Learning

Center and is becoming a spearhead to all dropout prevention efforts. Like the JRC’s job

training and job placement component for in-school youth, a similar component exists for

out-of-school youth through its partnership with Berkshire Works Career Center.

       As valuable as it is as a resource, the JRC cannot serve all the in-school at-risk

youth. Therefore, further development is necessary for this “clearinghouse” concept to

dissuade youth from dropping out or to “reconnect” them into the P-21 Network as soon

as possible after withdrawing from school.



OUT OF SCHOOL:

       The percentage of P-21 eligible enrollees at the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center is

over 50%—a reflection of the approximately 1/3 dropout rate for the 4-year high school
period in the Pittsfield Public Schools. The Adult Learning Center has a Guidance

Counselor who manages the entire caseloads of all of its enrollees.

       Through the P-21 Network, the Adult Learning Center works closely with

Berkshire Works Career Center and the Juvenile Resource Center, which sometimes

assists as a job placement component for specific referrals. For out-of-school youth, more

job/service placement and job support time will be required if our RECONNECT

Initiative succeeds in drawing in more and more youth. This added job placement

capability would target and guide youth “off the street,” those that are in an ABE

program, those that complete the ABE diploma, and those who enter Berkshire

Community College and need job support.

       Job placement efforts will specially emphasize those career pathways outlined in

the Berkshire P-21 Strategic Plan: Building Trades; Health/Human Services; and

Hospitality/Customer Service. As such, career incentives will be discussed and arranged

with individual youth so that they will understand opportunities for upward mobility

(e.g., tuition-free programs; pathways to nursing careers through Project Health; trade

apprenticeships, etc.).

       There are definite options available for out of school youth to complete a GED, to

secure employment, or a combination of both. The usual hurdles and obstacles exist, such

as personal motivation, negative peer pressure, court involvement, and special service

needs (e.g., substance abuse counseling). The Health/Human Services employers and

many Hospitality employers operate under stringent CORI requirements. The Pathway-21

Network includes involvement from those state agencies and community organizations

that can address many of the obstacles to career development.
       One particular obstacle for this region is transportation. Berkshire County covers

many square miles. At-risk youth are congregated primarily in Pittsfield, and to some

extent in North Adams. A number of potential jobs in the Hospitality pathway are in

tourist towns like Lenox, Stockbridge, and Williamstown. Employers in Human Services,

such as Berkshire ARC and BFAIR, operate 24-hour homes in a decentralized network

whereby it is essential for workers to have automobiles. The P-21 Network will look to

address this obstacle in a creative manner with its Pot E funds.

Question 4—Budget Narrative for Pot D

       The $20,000 will be broken down as follows:

       $17,000 Youth Consultant: The Youth Consultant will be retained from March 1,

2008 through May 30, 2009, at $2,000/month for the first 2 months and at $1,000/month

for the remaining 13 months, to coordinate the BCREB’s efforts to evolve the P-21

Network and its RECONNECT Initiative. The Consultant will be responsible for

development and refinement of all in-network initiatives. The Youth Consultant will be

available on an as-needed basis, but will deliver at least an average of 20 hours per week

for March and April 2008 and at least an average of 10/hours per week thereafter on

coordination, administration, development, and outreach (e.g., to Spanish speakers).

       $2,000 Printing & Copying: To keep employers informed of programs such as the

OJM and to publicize efforts of the RECONNECT Initiative to attract at-risk youth,

written materials need to be developed, disseminated, and replenished.

       $1,000 (5%) General and Administrative: The BCREB will administer this

project and will continue to host the P-21 Team, coordinate its activity, provide office

space, office equipment, and supervision of the Youth Consultant.

								
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