Published May 31, 2018
By Scott EdgerThe Dodge City Community College Adult Learning Center has once again received a $10,000 grant to continue advancing educational opportunities available in the community.
Throughout its 83-year history, the ALC has helped residents of Dodge City complete their GED and facilitated English-language learning in our community. Donations and partnerships with private businesses are a crucial factor in the ALC’s mission.
“We are 100 percent grant-funded,” Brandi Ferguson, ALC director, said. “Without federal funds and corporate grants we would not be able to provide these services, so we are especially thankful for the generosity and continued support of Dollar General.”
The Dollar General Literacy Grant has funded literacy programs and reading initiatives across the country for 25 years, donating more than $154 million in grants. This marks the fourth consecutive year that DCCC and the ALC have received the award.
Dodge City Community College was one of only four organizations in Kansas to receive the adult literacy grant. The ALC serves more than 500 students every year. The literacy classes and other services are essential to helping particularly disadvantaged individuals attain a better life and job.
“We often get very low-skilled students,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes they can’t read and write in their own language, or maybe even read a clock. We do whatever we can to get them where they need to be.”
As a result of improved student test scores and educational skill gains, the Center has also seen a significant increase in its Adult Education and Family Literacy Act grant funding. The performance-based grant for 2018 totals more than $230,000.
Staff at the facility continue to provide GED and English Language Acquisition services, but the ALC has restructured some of its services to the community. The purpose of the ALC has broadened to include development of more workplace abilities and soft skills that employers in Dodge City and the surrounding area are seeking.
The program hopes to move students beyond the base education provided by high school equivalency and simple English skills, and into realistic career pathways.
“We are really pushing the transition to postsecondary education, or increasing and improving career opportunities,” said Ferguson. “We’ve always emphasized that a GED is just the first step. Now we are even more focused on taking the students down a career path.”
The concept is to incorporate career skills into every class taught at the Center. Even if a student is seeking only English-language improvement, the idea is that at least some job skills like resume preparation or basic computer literacy will be conveyed to the student.
The evolution to more career-centric training will allow ALC students to develop practical, measurable skills that directly link to positive employment and workplace outcomes. Technical programs through Dodge City Community College such as welding, nursing and cosmetology will be highlighted at the facility to illustrate conduits to employment and promote continued education.
The dedicated staff at the ALC will also be incorporating more intensive career counseling for individual students even after completion of GED, literacy or English classes.
“Everyone here truly wants these students to succeed,” Ferguson said. “The ALC is going through very positive changes. We’re all very excited to see them come to fruition.”