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Focus on acclaimed I-BEST program for Adult Literacy Week


Edmonds Community College celebrates Adult Literacy Week Oct. 18-24 in Washington state and its role in educating adults to attain better skills and better jobs.

In turn, students play a role in building a better Washington. During Adult Literacy Week, Edmonds CC invites the public to find out more about one of its innovative state-funded programs — I-BEST, Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training.

Join us for an I-BEST Showcase featuring a panel of students and their instructors, 3-5 p.m., Tues., Oct. 20 in Snohomish Hall 304A. See how this program works locally serving more than 300 students at Edmonds CC since 2007.

I-BEST has attracted national attention because of how it successfully combines basic and career skills classes to ensure that students not only complete college, but are competitive in the workforce from the moment they graduate.

The state’s I-BEST program was cited as an example of the kind of innovative training that makes for a great investment in education in the White House council of economic advisers report, “Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” and in remarks on higher education by President Obama. The program was noted for its proven record of both boosting graduation rates and preparing workers for careers. It fills a critical need as the United States is facing a shortage of 14 million workers with college-level skills, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Edmonds Community College’s I-BEST program allows students, in as little as three months, to earn a certificate of completion in these fields: Allied Health, Computers, Electronics and Networks, Construction Industry Training, Medical Office Clerk, and Family Support Studies.

It’s a growing program which has received the support of local employers and business leaders. In 2008-2009, I-BEST served twice as many students as in the previous year (130 students up from 56). A grant from the Snohomish County Workforce Development Council (WDC) in 2008-2009 provided funding for more basic skills students to enter I-BEST classes and train for jobs. By the end of spring quarter 2009, of the students funded by the WDC: 99 were in I-BEST classes, 52 had earned certificates and 73 continued on to higher education.

In addition, Verizon Foundation helped establish Edmonds Community College’s Volunteer Literacy Program in 2007, which trains and supports volunteer tutors who help improve the English and math skills of adults in ESL and basic skills classes at the college.

Verizon Foundation will present a third $15,000 grant to the program at the I-BEST showcase during Adult Literacy Week, bringing its support for the program to $45,000 over the past three years. The grant supports the college’s growing volunteer tutoring program, which now has more than 40 volunteers. Volunteer tutors commit two hours per week for a minimum of three months.

Together, Edmonds Community College’s adult literacy programs serve more than 2,200 students in English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, GED Preparation, and I-BEST classes. The programs support adults who are motivated to improve their skills so that they can gain the qualifications and experience necessary to continue their education and obtain higher-paying jobs.

The 2,200 students served by adult literacy programs at Edmonds CC annually:

How you can support adult literacy, help your neighbors, and strengthen the local workforce and economy:

Find out more

I-BEST at Edmonds Community College

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