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Greater West Town Celebrates National Education Week by Raising Academic Skills and Getting Adult Learners Back to Work

To celebrate National Adult Education Week, September 23 – 29, Greater West Town Community Development Project continues its mission of providing students with both the basic and technical skills acquisition needed for employment in its Wood Products Manufacturing Program and its Shipping & Receiving Program.


More than 40% of participants come to GWTP without a high school diploma, and over 85% are Basic Skills deficient. The program has provided uniquely effective services to this group as evidenced by recent gains of more than 3.5 grade levels on average in reading and more than 2.9 grade levels on average in math. The success of GWTP’s workplace-contextualized Adult Education services was highlighted in the November 2012 report of the Illinois Community College Board, which identified GWTP as the highest ranking adult education provider in the State in achieving Federally-recognized education level gains. 91% of GWTP  participants achieved at least one educational level gain, well above the average statewide. 


Two recent graduates are examples of the positive effect Greater West Town’s adult education programs are having on the workforce and on the local community.  For Mariano, context is everything....a native of El Salvador who came to the U.S. to escape the civil war, Mariano had steady employment in restaurant jobs in Chicago, but didn't see any path forward beyond low wage jobs.


As he started wood products manufacturing training, Mariano’s aptitude for woodworking was clearly evident, as was his enthusiasm for the work, but he struggled with language skills and math.  The contextualized instruction of Language and Math classes at Greater West Town were key to Mariano’s developing all the skills he would need to secure a job with a future and a real career path.   The direct effect of learning these skills, in his words: “With these improvements, I will be able to provide the best for my family.”


The outcome?  Mariano improved his reading skills by 2 grade levels and his math skills by 3.5 grade levels during the 15 weeks of training.  He also started work on graduation day as an assembler for a custom woodworking company in Chicago and is well on his way to earning the means to fulfill the dream of being able to enhance his family’s life and future.


Another example of GWTP’s success in linking the employment and training of the neighborhood workforce with the needs of local employers and economic development efforts is Nicole.  A drop out from high school who came into the Shipping & Receiving Program with reading and math levels below 7th grade, Nicole wanted the opportunity so badly that she wept in her interview.  As a  person with no high school diploma, she had found that temporary work was all she could get – and these lasted only a few months.  She had worked in shipping on one temporary assignment and passionately wanted to learn more skills and to get a permanent position.


In training, Nicole picked up new skills quickly. She excelled in inventory control,  computers, and the technical details of training. She improved her reading skills by 4.5 grade levels and her math skills by 2.5 grade levels during the 12 weeks of training. Nicole also stayed at GWTP twice a week after training finished to work with instructors on preparing for the GED.  Nicole remembers some of the changes brought about through training:  “My attitude changed.  After completing the program, I was able to take constructive criticism in a mature way.  I am now safe when driving, I read instructions carefully, and I watch for detail.  I know how to stay focused and positive.”

After graduating Nicole began her job search with assistance from Greater West Town, and she also took the GED exam. She succeeded in both of these challenges: she was hired by a paper products manufacturer as a warehouse associate and two months later received the good news that she had passed the GED exam! Her employer reports she is doing a fantastic job.

The success of Greater West Town Project’s training programs is measured not only in the number of people served, but in our quality of service.  Our greatest achievements are those of our participants – particularly their long-term successes. If you have the positive attitude, drive to succeed, and great motivation like Nicole and Mariano, give us a call today to schedule an orientation: 312-563-9570. Training begins soon!

Keywords: cabinetmaking, Education, employment, furniture, Jobs, logistics, receiving, shipping, training, woodworking

Posted in Business News, Education, Jobs

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