DANVILLE – Danville Area Community College’s adult education division has planned an event Tuesday morning to inform frontline community supporters of the services available to individuals who might need a hand with finishing their education or landing a job.
An open house has been set for 9-10 a.m. Tuesday in Room 106 of Vermilion Hall on DACC’s campus. The event will be comprised of five-minute presentations on the entry points to high school completion, such as Middle College and GED/HSE (high school equivalency); English language acquisition, literacy/reading/math tutoring, short-term CNA and manufacturing pathways and financial assistance availability.
“A lot of programs are free, but for the ones that aren’t, there’s financial assistance for qualifying individuals to offset the cost,” Laura Williams, DACC’s Director of Adult Education and Middle College, said.
Williams said 125 letters and postcards promoting the event were mailed to pastors, nonprofit organizations and counselors in the community. The public also is welcome to attend the event.
“We decided to hold this event because people think adult education is just about getting a GED and we’re much more than that,” Williams said. “Many people in the community don’t know what all our department offers or how to access our services.”
Williams said the event also was inspired by the people who attended the Day of Prayer called for on May 8 by Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and who asked how they could help better their community in light of last month’s gun violence. Laura Williams is the mayor's mother.
“There were all these people who want to help, and we need to direct them and help them understand what we do,” she said. “I believe there’s been a turn in the community, and we want to carry on that momentum.”
According to 2019 data compiled by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, in Danville’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), 9,801 individuals have not finished high school and need high school equivalency education, and 3,784 individuals need English language acquisition.
“Sometimes things don’t happen until there’s a trigger event. When people are in a troubled spot, they see a pastor or a counselor,” Williams said. “We want to see those people on Tuesday who refer people for services so they will have a seamless transition to our services.
“This is specifically designed to put relevant information in their hands so they can pass that along should the need arise,” she said.
“With all of us working together to provide wrap-around services, a lot of the obstacles are removed,” Williams added.
For example, through Vermilion County Works’ First Institute Program, individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 can have their testing, transportation or mileage reimbursement, and child care costs paid for while attending one of DACC’s adult education programs.
“They also will pay for anything required for a job, such as steel-toed boots,” Cydney Boyd, adult education specialist, said.
Retention and Data Specialist Susie Landers, who has worked in the adult education division for 28 years, said, “This is the first time we’ve invited such a big group, but we want them to know they can make referrals and how to contact us.”
Boyd agreed. “This is going to be an important event for us. People can come here Tuesday to learn more about adult education, and then they can take tours of the classes -- since they will be going on -- and they can meet the students.”