Educational Program Offers Second Chances to Older Youth

Students working towards their PACT Certification in YALC's Home Builders Institute Workshop. /Photo courtesy Home Builders Institute
Students working towards their PACT Certification in YALC’s Home Builders Institute Workshop. /Photo courtesy Home Builders Institute

Education and skills training remain essential in anyone’s quest for gainful employment, a meaningful career and a financially-secure future.

But for young adults either transitioning from incarceration or who have yet to earn their high school credential, life as adults will inevitably be fraught with intermittent, low-wage work or infrequent returns to incarceration.

However, one educational program in Northeast, realizing the lack of services and programs tailored for the District’s growing number of juvenile ex-offenders and high school dropouts, has made significant inroads in helping youth reconnect with school and work, placing them back on the road toward a brighter future and armed with “weapons of success.”

The Maya Angelou Young Adult Learning Center [YALC], located on East Capitol Street, NE, opened its doors in 2007, under the management of the See Forever Foundation, as an extended day educational program. Its services have since been expanded and revised in order to more adequately assist young adults, ages 17-24, who face significant academic and socio-emotional deficiencies – disenfranchised, disconnected former students of the District’s Public Schools.

Cincinnati native Sean B. Yisrael, who earned both a Master’s in Education Leadership and a Doctorate of Education in School Administration, who assumed leadership as the YALC’s director in August 2016, says he’s confident that the Center can continue to benefit youth who once had little hope for brighter tomorrows.

Students preparing for GED examinations in small class settings. /Photo courtesy Young Adult Learning Center
Students preparing for GED examinations in small class settings. /Photo courtesy Young Adult Learning Center

“The 100 students we currently serve are seeking a GED – but more than that, we want to provide them with a quality education that will prepare them for the world of work or post-secondary education,” said Yisrael, 43, recognized for his passion for helping students and those teachers determined to help them succeed and who has achieved a proven record of serving urban schools including recent success as the former principal of Roosevelt STAY for DCPS.

YALC offers OSHA 10 Certification, internships including partnerships with the Departments of Public Works and Employment Services, academic programs, mainly technologically focused, and counseling and other vital youth development support services. And as their director notes, they have the capacity to serve an additional 80 students.

“In January we’ll be implementing an online credit recovery program that will allow students to obtain a high school diploma,” he said. “In October, we added a new student attendance incentive that rewards [them] with a small stipend for maintaining excellent daily attendance. And while I can’t speak for all charter schools, I can say that YALC students benefit most from our small class sizes and from our skilled, dedicated staff members, all of whom are truly committed to helping students move forward in life.”

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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