Orleans/Niagara BOCES is looking to help at risk youth between the ages of 16 to 24 years of age. The adult education program is the recipient of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant that will allow it to coordinate and integrate the delivery of education, workforce and social services for out-of-school youth.
The funds are allocated by the Niagara County Workforce Development Board (NCWDB) to include training and youth development programs for young people who are eligible due to: having a disability, being a school dropout, not attending school for at least the most recent complete school year quarter, a high school graduate who is basic skills deficient or an English language learner, or an offender, homeless, runaway or foster child, pregnant or parenting or a low-income individual who requires additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program to secure or hold employment.
Adult Education Case Manager Ezra Scott said BOCES’ aim is to help at-risk youth overcome barriers: “Our ultimate goal is for them to gain employment in high-growth, high-demand fields. We are recruiting participants who are facing future economic challenges to connect them to educational and employment opportunities in our Level-UP program. We want to help them fulfill their hopes and aspirations.”
Scott said the WIOA have several activities that are available through this program. Services provided include: tutoring, study skills training and instruction leading to high school completion, alternative secondary school offerings or dropout recovery services, paid and unpaid work experiences, occupational skills training, leadership development, adult mentoring, follow-up services for at least 12 months after program completion, guidance and counseling (including drug and alcohol abuse), integrated education and training for a specific occupation, financial literacy education, entrepreneurial skills training, information on in-demand industry sectors and occupations and postsecondary preparation and transition activities.
Orleans/Niagara BOCES offers career programs in welding, construction, certified nursing assistant, CNC machining, home health aide, HVAC, electricity, licensed practical nursing and phlebotomy at its Niagara Falls and Lockport sites.
Scott said, “We can also offer help with college tuition in other fields at Bryant and Stratton, Niagara County Community College, Buffalo State College and Genesee Community College. There are also support services that can assist participants with child care support, transportation and funding for tools, PPE, and work clothes such as scrubs or boots for example.”
Marthe Limage is one of the people taking advantage of the level-up program.
“I was always scared of failure and not being able to graduate when I was in school. I let that fear keep me from that,” she said. “When I had my son, I knew I wanted to be successful for him and thought about going back to school. But I thought, ‘How am I going to pay for college and day care for my son being a single mom?’ When Ezra told me about this program, it was like a godsend. It suddenly removed all those barriers for me and allowed me to start this new chapter of my life. I am very excited about starting the business administration program at NCCC.”
She added, “My heart is in helping people and I want to be able to offer something that will help Niagara Falls. I think the degree will help to mold me and be able to contribute to family and community as well.”
Under the grant, multiple incentives are offered such as a $400 gift card if a participant completes their high school equivalency diploma, or a $200 gift card for completion of a technical program.
“We want nothing more than to give our participants a second chance and to realize a better future for themselves and help our local economy and businesses with more qualified skilled workers,” Scott said.
For more information, or to see about qualifying, contact Scott at 716-731-6800, ext. 3773, or email [email protected].