$600,000 for training

$600,000 for training

Entergy Texas announced a $600,000 workforce development initiative Monday, March 13 at Edison Plaza in Beaumont with several important dignitaries in attendance including Entergy Texas CEO Sallie Rainer and Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Employees Ruth Hughs.

Several entities are involved in the initiative, including Texas Workforce Commission which is matching Entergy’s $500,000 donation with a $97,293 donation of its own; Region 5 ESC, Beaumont Independent School District (BISD), Port Arthur Independent School District (PAISD), Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT), Lamar State College Port Arthur (LSCPA), Lone Star College, and Jobs For America’s Graduates (JAG).

BISD and PAISD will each receive $75,000 to host programs for at-risk students in their schools, according to a release by Entergy. LIT and LSCPA will host dropout recovery programs at their campuses. To support the programs at the two colleges, Entergy will contribute $100,000 which will be matched by the Texas Workforce Commission. The Texas Industry Partnership (TIP) program grant of $97,293 will go to Workforce Solutions of Southeast Texas, which will then provide the funds to Region 5, the administrator for the two college-based programs. Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas partnered with Entergy and Region 5 to successfully apply for the TIP program grant from the state.

Additionally, LIT is receiving $150,000 for its dual credit program in which high school students are enrolled in college-level courses.

Lone Star College in Montgomery County is also a part of the initiative, receiving $100,000 for its Promise Scholarships, which provide gap funding, giving students the financial boost between their college funding and actual college costs.

“We are pleased to present the first Texas Industry Partnership grant between Entergy and Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas, which will provide specialized training in high-demand industries to workers and expand the talent pipeline for employers. These training programs will continue to keep our Texas businesses competitive,” said Hughs.

Entergy Texas’ contribution is the first step in a five-year commitment to supporting workforce development efforts across Southeast Texas, according to Rainer.

“Workforce development and education is why we are here today,” Rainer said. “The capability of an area’s workforce is often the deciding factor in where new development will locate. That is why it is incumbent on our company to help our communities succeed today – so we all can succeed tomorrow.

“If we can use our time, talent and resources to improve the communities we serve, those communities can then create advantages – such as a highly qualified and trained workforce – that bring new resources to the community in the forms of jobs.”

 

The contribution goes beyond just funding organizations, Rainer said, it is a partnership with numerous state and local educational and job-focused organizations to bring the nationally-recognized Jobs For America’s Graduates to Southeast Texas — the first JAG program in Texas. ofit organization, dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.

“JAG is a national leader,” Rainer said. “The program has a 35-year track record of putting young people on the road to success.”

The stories of JAG’s success are powerful, according to Rainer. 

“One example is a girl, the daughter of migrant workers, who struggled to keep up at school because of constant moving and a difficult home life,” Rainer said. “Because of this she became rebellious and started getting in trouble at school. She thought about dropping out. She said she felt like a penny that someone had dropped on the sidewalk.

“Everyone passed by and ignored the penny because it didn’t have any value. That’s how she felt – that no one cared. That was until she met the JAG specialist at her school.

“JAG helped her with schoolwork to turn around her grades. JAG helped her with career skills to get a job. JAG helped her understand the importance of giving back to the community. Most importantly, JAG helped her graduate from high school and become the first person in her family to attend college.

“She is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree and is talking about getting her master’s degree. To her, JAG came by and picked that penny off the sidewalk, polished it, cleaned it up and showed its value.”

Rainer said the first step is helping students earn their high school diploma or GED. 

But the program delivers so much more than that, she pointed out. 

“Program graduates complete job training covering 37 employer-developed competencies,” she said. “They also receive life coaching and wrap-around social services. But perhaps most importantly, they have access to a JAG specialist — an adult who cares and who is focused on their success.”

And the results speak for themselves, according to Rainer:

  • • More than 1 million young people have completed the JAG program.
  • 90 percent or more receive their high school diploma or GED.
  • • JAG graduates are twice as likely as their peers to be employed 1 year after graduation.
  • • And they’re three times more likely than their peers to be employed or enrolled in full time post-secondary education.

Ken Smith, CEO for JAG said, “We are delighted to be coming to Texas to serve the Southeast Texas communities of Beaumont and Port Arthur. After over 30 years of consistent outcomes significantly increasing graduation rates, tripling the rate of full time employment and nearly doubling the rate of post-secondary enrollment for our youth, we are eager to get to work in your community thanks to the partnership with the many organizations represented at today’s event. This opportunity for area youth would not be possible without Entergy’s vision, so a very special thank you to their team.”

Marilyn Smith, executive director of Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas, said the effort highlights Entergy’s willingness to proactively invest in the Southeast Texas community and economic growth. “This collaboration between Entergy and Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas is an excellent example of how employers and local workforce boards can forge true partnerships to enhance solutions that meet the workforce needs of employers and industry in the region,” she said. 

Brenda Schofield, Region 5 ESC director of Adult Education, said students between the ages of 16-24 can benefit from the program.

“We have students that have already dropped out of high school that come to us. Sometimes they will have completed their GED, but they also need remediation to continue on to college and on towards the workforce,” Schofield said. “With this grant that we’ve received from Entergy and … Texas Workforce Commission, it will actually allow us to even move further with not only our students but to recruit other potential students that have already dropped out of school and maybe aren’t working. … In this, we will not only help them get their high school equivalency, but we will also work with them to develop some general skills that they need for everyday life that they already don’t have. Through this grant, we can also provide some workforce training at Lamar State College Port Arthur and at LIT.”

Lamar State College Port Arthur is pleased to be involved in the continued growth and improvement of the workforce in Southeast Texas, said Dr. Betty Reynard, president of Lamar State College Port Arthur.

“LSCPA is dedicated to serving a diverse population through technical education and workforce training,” she said. “The JAG Out-of-School program offers yet another tool to help keep our region’s workforce well-trained and ready for any challenge the future brings.”

Dr. Lonnie L. Howard, president of Lamar Institute of Technology, said he is delighted Entergy chose LIT as a partner in the first JAG program in Texas. 

“I am also grateful for the $150,000 provided by Entergy to develop dual credit technical course agreements with local school districts,” he said. “Entergy continues to be a great supporter of LIT and the Southeast Texas community.”

Miranda Phillips, Director of CTE Curriculum & Instruction for Beaumont ISD, said BISD is thankful to have been chosen as a pilot district in Texas for the JAG program. 

“This program has an impressive track record in the nation for helping at-risk students to achieve compelling post secondary outcomes,” she said. “This partnership will be a huge asset to our district as we strive to prepare all of our students for the workforce and post-secondary readiness.”

Dr. Mark Porterie, superintendent of Port Arthur Independent School District said the Port Arthur Independent School District is excited about the opportunity to be a part of JAG.

“The idea of partnering with Entergy’s workforce development initiative is definitely a positive to the growth of this community and to the students of Memorial High School,” he said. “The need for a prescribed program that will reduce the dropout rate and provide options for students in the future is amazing. This program will direct a large percentage of our students in the right direction and for that we are grateful.”

The effort is part of an overall $5 million commitment Entergy Corp. has made to support such efforts in the four-state area it serves.

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