The State of Ohio Collective (“SOC”) Workforce Educational Development and Guidance for Employment (“WEDGE”) Program currently serves Franklin County High Schools. SOC provides an intensive program that serves 12 – 26 year old at-risk youth in and out of school through a variety of programmatic services geared towards graduation from high school, college, trade school, academic gap closure and performance improvement and correction. Families and students have programming customized for their individual success, vocational training, and career exploration.
The four primary goals of the WEDGE Program are:
- Assist students in graduating from High School
- Develop employment skills so that youth will pursue employment, military service, or secondary education after high school
- Provide mentoring, coaching, and training to assist youth with their academic performance
- Assist program participants in career exploration and skill development
Services include academic support and gap closure, paid and unpaid work experience, leadership development, career exploration, field trips, incentives and social activities. WEDGE Program Administrators and Program Coordinators serve as the adult educators for program participants. Program staff members meet with WEDGE members on a weekly basis, monitor attendance, create interim reports, and report cards. The WEDGE Coordinators also act as a liaison between the school and the home.
The WEDGE program encourages youth to concentrate on achieving good grades and pursuing college or vocational training after college. The pressing financial needs of the youth are ever increasing so the program uses incentives to encourage and reward academic performance. These items include gift cards, trips to museums and area educational attractions to encourage program participants to excel at academic success.
SOC will ensure that the following required WIOA program elements are made available in the proposed WEDGE Program:
Dropout prevention strategies leading to a high school diploma will be ensured through the continuing partnership between participating youth and the WEDGE Program staff in the development and implementation of a Youth Development Plan. The plan details agreed upon employment goals, training needs, and supporting service needs and includes a description of services needed, training opportunities planned for, education and/or skill development, support services, resources allocated to provide planned services, and any other planned activities needed to accomplish the employment goals set in the plan.
Summer and year round leadership programs are linked to academic and occupational learning (integrated into a year round ongoing program). Youth will acquire work skills by participating in a variety of ongoing credentialing, internships, apprenticeships, and out of program employment opportunities. WEDGE youth will complete a work readiness pre-test and post-test during summer leadership programming to demonstrate increased knowledge in employability skills and work ethic. Employers are asked to complete an evaluation form indicating if they will work with the participant again. Positive responses will demonstrate increased knowledge.
Unpaid work/volunteer experience. Leadership development will be fostered through required community service. Program participants at all levels of the program will be required to perform at least five (5) hours of community service hours per year.
Summer school services for youth who need additional academic assistance. If necessary, the youth will also participate in summer school during the time he/she would normally be working.
- Transportation in the form of bus tickets or rides offered through the program.
- Childcare through referrals to area child care agencies or other sources when needed.
- Work related tools through linkages with the Department of Job and Family Services WIOA Program.
- Other identified needs to aid in self-sufficiency such as assisting in obtaining a driver’s license.
Comprehensive academic and personal guidance and counseling for program participants including drug and alcohol abuse. Comprehensive guidance and counseling will be provided by WEDGE Program staff. The role of the WEDGE Program staff will be to assess counseling and guidance issues and assist and connect them with resources in remedying any of their areas of skill deficiencies. The coordinator will use both a problem solving and strengths perspective approach in working with the youth.
The WEDGE Program will encourage the youth served to apply for one of the career education choices available through Franklin County Public Career Programs. The youth can apply for the Career Programs in their sophomore year and participate in the Junior and Senior year in the high school program. Some programs are connected with the Ohio State University where youth may earn college credit toward a postsecondary degree.
(For example, youth interested in nursing will have the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Nursing Program and as a part of the training to become a certified State Tested Nurses Aide once they graduate from high school.)
Youth who are having difficulty with drug and alcohol abuse or mental illness that is beyond the scope of staff’s expertise will be referred to appropriate social service agencies. Examples include: Franklin County Children’s Services, Franklin County ADAMH, Community New Directions, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, etc.
SOC will provide follow-up services for program participants for twelve months after graduation. In order to provide follow-up services for a minimum of twelve months (i.e. active case management of participants for at least one year after completing the program), the WEDGE Program Manager will contact SOC youth quarterly via telephone or in-person appointments to “touch base” with youth on their progress once they leave the program. The goal of the contact is for the Manager to assess the youth’s progress and assist them in problem solving any key program related issues that may have occurred since the last contact.
Adult mentoring will occur during program participation. The WEDGE Youth Coordinators will serve as the adult mentor for program participants. An effort will be made to recruit a mentor from the different workforce opportunities and career paths WEDGE youth choose for their long term career goals.
Operating, Supplies, Material, Insurance: This includes rent, estimated office supplies, fees for processing payroll (Paycor), cell phone stipend which requires the program staff to have a data plan to keep in communication with the youth and program and administrative staff. Travel allows for WEDGE staff to travel between The State of Ohio Collective and all program related travel. Bus passes for youth are included in the cost as well additional travel needs for youth employment and WEDGE related events. Potential college tours for youth to colleges and universities including: Central State University and The Ohio State University. The program will include a residential summer component.Insurance cost for travel is included.
Stipends. This is the estimated amount of youth stipends to serve youth throughout the summer.
This program makes a visible difference in the lives of the youth served because it inspires youth to think outside of their socioeconomic circumstances and explore vocational and educational opportunities through this program. A collaborative approach towards youth career development is deployed through partnerships with the Columbus City Schools County Schools, The Ohio State University, Youngstown State University, Ohio NAACP, The Department of Defense, and many other organizations ensure that students are able to have valuable vocational and post-secondary opportunities and choices. Locations include myriad programming sites including local museums, colleges and universities, trade schools, and potential employers.
Initiatives that involve the collaboration of multiple community partners will receive preference. If a funded organization is able to utilize city funding to leverage additional resources, those initiatives will also receive preference.
Does this initiative supplement an existing city service or program? If so, which program(s)?
Columbus City Schools, City of Columbus Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Development, Department of Education, Columbus Public Health
The WEDGE Program partners with the Collective Institutes, Nina Imani, Cliff Catchers, YEP, and the ID Movement.
The State of Ohio Collective focuses on operating with a collective approach to workforce challenges and issues by providing comprehensive solutions.
We use a model that consists of diverse funding streams including: government funding, corporate and foundation support, in-kind, sponsorship funding, state funding and other multi-year public and private sector partnerships.