The 2GEN Learning Center of Literacy and Beyond, a Port Huron-based educational nonprofit organization focused on helping at-risk children and their families, recently received a $27,500 grant from the Community Foundation.
The 2GEN Learning Center is a “holistic two-generation approach (serving women and their children together) that moves families toward economic security by improving educational attainment (GED and associate degree for mothers and early learning skills for children) in addition to addressing the nonacademic barriers that hinder their success,” literacyandbeyond.org states. It opened in the fall of 2017.
The grant is meant to support the expansion of the center’s college and career programming for GED students and 2GEN graduates.
“Heather Kendrick, a 2GEN GED graduate and current student at St. Clair County Community College, credits her success to the support that she has received from the staff at the 2GEN Learning Center,” arelease on the Community Foundation’s website states. “She says that, ‘As soon as you walk through the door, you know that you’re going to succeed here. There’s no shame or judgment for weaknesses, just support to help everyone. We’re all here cheering each other on, staff and students.’”
For enrolled women, the 2GEN program includes tutoring from certified teachers, free developmental child care onsite for their children, coaching and individual counseling from a licensed counselor, parent engagement opportunities, meals, transportation assistance and help with other individual student barriers.
“Providing holistic support and having a caring and professional staff are invaluable for the success of our program model,” program director Dawn Schweihofer said in the release.
The Community Foundation grant will help the 2GEN Learning Center expand the support it provides to GED students and graduates as they explore and pursue the next steps after earning their GED certificate. Support includes intense and personalized advising from an onsite college and career navigator beginning with career exploration and then step-by-step assistance to enroll graduates at SC4 or into other certificate or licensing programs through Michigan Works and other providers, the release states.
2GEN graduates who choose to pursue an associate degree at SC4 are encouraged to attend the 2GEN Learning Center, where they can continue to take advantage of the child care program, professional counseling and a dedicated study lab.
Additionally, a portion of the grant is supporting the 2GEN Graduates Receiving Associate Degree Support Scholarship, which is awarded to five 2GEN graduates yearly. The scholarship includes a new laptop, monthly life needs stipends and intense advising from enrollment to completion of an associate degree at SC4.
For other graduates who are not awarded the scholarship, the grant is helping to pay for several laptops to be used while they study at the 2GEN Learning Center, which can also be taken home to support the completion of their college coursework.
“The essential ingredient for the success of our program is our commitment to building genuine relationships with the women and children that we serve,” Literacy and Beyond Executive Director Mike Hinkley said in the release. “We do that through acceptance, unconditional love and a relentless belief in their potential. Building loving relationships affords us the opportunity to challenge and empower the women we serve to become the very best version of themselves, which has a life-changing impact on their children and future generations of their families, as well.”
Community Foundation President and CEO Randy Maiers said that the foundation has been proud to support Literacy and Beyond since 2013 and that staff members have formed a good relationship with Hinkley and Schweihofer.
“We encourage them to apply for grants as needed, and their core mission is closely aligned with our goals around college, career and life success,” Maiers said. “And both of our organizations have a strong passion for helping single parents.”
“The 2GEN program at Literacy and Beyond is a perfect example of supporting community members for life success,” Community Foundation Board Chairman and former Grants Committee Chairman Hale Walker said. “The 2GEN programming provides tools and support to local single mothers that helps them towards lifetime success through attaining their GED, and now with the expansion of their programming, that support extends through getting their associate degree or other professional certification. The students have done the work to get their GED and now this grant will help them as they explore and pursue the next steps towards their economic security.”
Maiers said that the foundation’s Women’s Initiative, Youth Advisory Council, Alexa Lawrence Fund for Education, Wirtz/Ogden Fund and several others have made it possible to provide nearly $147,000 in support to Literacy and Beyond since 2013.
“They are doing life-changing work and we’re proud to support them,” he said.
For more information about Literacy and Beyond, visit literacyandbeyond.org or facebook.com/literacyandbeyond.