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Catholic Charities Youth Education Program Can Brighten Summer and the Future with a GED | Events

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Catholic Charities Youth Education Program Can Brighten Summer and the Future with a GED
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BUFFALO, NY, July 18, 2011 – While it’s summertime, the living isn’t easy when struggling in a dead-end, low-paying job without a high school diploma. Whether it’s a teen who doesn’t have the option of returning to school or someone who left high school without a diploma years ago, becoming financially independent without a high school diploma is nearly impossible.

Tomorrow’s Youth Today of Catholic Charities can help Erie County residents obtain a high school diploma, known as a GED, and gain employable skills – all free of cost.

The Tomorrow’s Youth Today (TYT) program of Catholic Charities, along with support from Dollar General, helps individuals 16 years and older face these realities and give them a second chance at a brighter future.

Small group classes and one-on-one GED tutoring are offered free at many locations throughout Buffalo and Erie County. Job readiness skills also are addressed. 

“Each student brings his or her own experience, their specific challenges to overcome before they reach our door,” said Darrell Slisz, Catholic Charities education coordinator. “We start with the positives, along with their own desire to succeed, and design a fertile environment for learning and growth. Ultimately, many students find they can achieve more than they imagined.”

Vicki Hawkins, a TYT graduate, discovered she could do more than she ever dreamed. She left high school at 16 to have her first baby 12 years ago. A couple of years later she came to Catholic Charities to earn her GED. She realized that wasn’t enough. So she came back and got the confidence and the help to start college. In May 2010, Vicki graduated high honors with an associate’s degree from Erie Community College. She now attends Buffalo State College majoring in counseling and social work.

Vicki said of her experience with TYT, “The people I worked with at Catholic Charities made me feel like I belonged, that I was really welcome and part of the group.  They told me that I could do anything I set mind to.”

She added, “I know that I can achieve this goal too. I will succeed, with my two daughters watching my moves and being my motivation!”

After receiving an educational/career assessment, students attend GED classes. A counselor works with each student on job readiness skills and leadership training and helps them determine and work through their next steps, such as college placement.

Classes are offered in Buffalo at the Workforce Development office, 170 Kerns Ave.; Greater Buffalo Works, 237 Main St. - Suite 900; the Abley Center, 24 Ludington St.; Seneca Babcock Community Center, 1168 Seneca St., and Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo, 370 Massachusetts Ave. Instruction is also given at the Lackawanna Library on Ridge Road in Lackawanna. Other locations may be available.

In total in 2010, the department helped 80 students ages 16-24 obtain GED diplomas, 150 students increase reading or math levels a minimum of one grade level, and 58 students receive part- or full-time employment. All of these statistics represent increases over 2009 totals.

Catholic Charities has been providing GED preparation and job readiness skills to Erie County residents since 1975.

For more information about GED preparation and work readiness services available to people ages 16 and older, call the Workforce program at 716-893-3500 or visit www.ccwny.org.

In addition to support for adult literacy services from Dollar General, TYT is funded by a grant from the Workforce Investment Act through the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium.

Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider in Western New York, reaching all eight counties with 61 locations. Founded in 1923, Catholic Charities also provides, without regard to religious affiliation, comprehensive counseling services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming and emergency services, among other social and mental health services. For more information, go to www.ccwny.org.

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