In WV, Goodwill®-Community College Partnership Helps Participants Build Skills, Advance Education

KYOWVA MOST Students pose as part of the Walk and Roll paradeBeginning in January 2013, Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area (Huntington, WV), in partnership with Mountwest Community and Technical College (MCTC), is offering Human Relations (SS 201), yet another course in its three successful college-level skills training tracks: Hospitality Skills Training Program (HOST), Business Employment Skills Training (BEST) and Medical Office Skills Training (MOST)—its most popular track.

SS 201 takes an interdisciplinary approach to working with others and is part of the Goodwill-MCTC partnership that allows Goodwill participants to earn college credit for the classes they take at Goodwill’s career center. The dual enrollment means students can apply for Pell Grants to help subsidize their education. Goodwill gets more participants, MCTC gets increased enrollment numbers, and participants get the chance to seamlessly move on to earn a two-year college degree. Former MOST student Vicky Perdue, for example, not only moved on to MCTC but was recently inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

This Goodwill-community college partnership dates back to 2005, when an instructor was teaching a part-time computer class at MCTC and at Goodwill. She realized that the Goodwill participants were doing the same amount and caliber of work as the MCTC students, and believed they should earn the same college credit hours. Working with Steven L. Brown, dean of allied health, business, technology, life sciences and workforce development at MCTC, the Huntington Goodwill and the college “went from that one class to several that we found we could align,” Brown said.

As the organizations shared their expertise, the original one-course partnership grew to three tracks that now allow students to accumulate 12 credit hours or more at Goodwill.

Vicky Perdue poses in front of Phi Theta Kappa flag
Former MOST Student Vicky Perdue was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

The diverse array of courses range from Culinary Sanitation and Safety in the HOST track to Medical Terminology in the MOST track and Records Management in the BEST track. All three tracks require Fundamentals of Computers, Human Relations and a new student seminar.

Taught by Goodwill instructors, the classes meet the same requirements as those taught at MCTC. Goodwill staff create a syllabus for each class that they submit to MCTC to ensure the instruction is in line with MCTC’s requirements. Once Goodwill participants graduate from one of the three tracks, they are eligible to move on to MCTC for a two-year degree.

Goodwill students say they appreciate the individualized attention they receive from the instructors.

“Sometimes our students come from all over and have different levels of computer skills. A lot of them become peer-to-peer mentors in the classroom because of the smaller classroom size,” said Karen Horner, employment and training programs manager at the Huntington Goodwill.

Carolyn Wright, who took computer classes in the medical office training track a few years ago, said “It’s a great program; it’s really good for people who need to get back into the workforce.”

“The students I’ve spoken with, they’re grateful for the opportunity because there aren’t many training opportunities out there with as much support as Goodwill,” said Brown, who is also an Army veteran. “We’re also helping to fulfill our mission to reach out to the community.”

This partnership model is one of the 50 Community College/Career Collaboration (C4) partnerships involving 40 Goodwill agencies throughout the United States. In addition to the training programs, Huntington Goodwill staff serves on MCTC committees and some of the college’s staff serves on some of the Goodwill’s advisory boards.

To learn more about what’s happening with Goodwill’s skills attainment programs, contact Tanya Anderson, Goodwill Industries International skills attainment program manager.