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Grant-Funded Tech Helps ALC Deal with Escalating Numbers

Published January 3, 2019

Space inside Dodge City Community College’s Adult Learning Center is at a premium. Preparation for GED testing was a primary focus of the Center in previous years, but a recent federal directive aimed at building career-relevant skills has created a broader focus for staff and students.

A steady stream of English-language classes and an increased emphasis on teaching relevant workplace “soft skills” means that the center is often bursting at the seams.

Time and space constraints in the workplace are typically overcome through technology, and that’s exactly how the ALC is adapting through its growing pains.

Through Dollar General Literacy grants, the ALC has been able to provide several new laptop computers for students, and is able to serve more people in an increasingly crowded space.

The computer lab is always as full as it can get, according to Marti Aberson, ABE/ESL Coordinator for the Center. A previous year’s grant enabled Wi-Fi access, in addition to other much-needed improvements at the east Dodge facility.

With no space available for new computer stations, Aberson said the new laptops allow the ALC to provide its ever-burgeoning student population computer access and training – rudimentary skills in today’s workplace.

“Basic computer skills are so important,” Aberson said. “Even if you’re working fast food or retail, you need computer skills to operate the register or handle inventory or basic customer service.”

Aberson said the ALC has also used grant funds to purchase slots on the Aztec online GED service so students can access prep materials and courses via the internet from home.

Support for the Literacy Foundation pervades store operations. Throughout the local store, 100 percent of proceeds from dozens of items are designated to support the grant programs. The local store displays notices about the ALC and a donation box designated for the Literacy Foundation fills up weekly.

“The founder of Dollar General only made through third grade,” Aberson said. I think it’s really neat that the company gives back in such a direct way. So many people in our community benefit from the activities Dollar General helps fund at the Adult Learning Center.”

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.

Staff at the ALC are currently busy writing the Center’s grant application for next year. DCCC hosts the Center, but the majority of operations are funded through federal programs and corporate grants.

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 $10,000 award.

By Scott Edger