iBest program to seek new funding avenues
A new program that allows students to obtain their GED and successfully transition to college is undergoing some changes in funding models as it looks into additional funding sources.
Funding for NIC’s Integrated Based Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) had been previously provided for by the Albertson’s Foundation Grant along with a few other grants with retention components on them, said Mike Mires, dean of professional, technical and workforce education.
“The hope is to be able to expand the retention strategies that we use here, and that work for students that are at risk populations, to the greater NIC and professional technical population.” Mires said.
I-BEST is currently working with soft money and is a grant funded effort but ultimately hopes to move toward a state-funded model, Mires said.
“I don’t think we’re going to rely on soft money forever,” Mires said. “What I’m looking forward to is to have it become a totally state-funded effort as part of a bigger retention model.”
I-BEST staff offers aid and support for students in finding financial assistance, applying at the college and registering for classes.
I-BEST students are responsible for their tuition, fees and books and materials. It is designed to improve student success, engagement, study skills, utilization of support services and academic resources said Molly Kreyssler, I-BEST coordinator of professional-technical education.
“We’re always working on expanding student retention and success,” Kreyssler said. “What we learn here and what works for students is what will be implemented for other NIC students who can benefit from it as well.”
Mires said that one of the many keys of reaching success in this program is going to a cohort, or educational group. It’s having the students feel that this is a place where they can come and acquire professional guidance and help.
“If you want to call it hand-holding I guess that would be OK,” Mires said. “But sometimes I believe we think students are just going to walk into school and figure it all out and that it’s obvious, but it isn’t obvious at all. In fact, almost nobody gets that.”
Charles McCall, 28, a student in the I-BEST program pursuing a career as a machinist, said that he certainly wouldn’t be here without them.
“The venues they took to find us were amazing,” said McCall. “They helped me obtain my GED over the summer before my classes even started. These people genuinely care about us, it’s not just about school here. It’s been like a family.”
Kreyssler said the I-BEST program goes to great extents to find at-risk students within the community.
“We find them at tattoo parlors, we find them at Wal-Mart, we find them on the streets, wherever they come from, and then see where they’re at and what they need to do and how they need to get there,” Kreyssler said.
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