How much time does it take to change the way a system works? Or the way an organization works? Or even the way a single person works? From the onset, Building Our Future has taken the approach that Kenosha County is “program rich but system poor.” What this means is that we have a lot of people and programs doing great work, but, more often than not, they are doing their work separately. If they were able to work together, a much more powerful force could be created. In 2018, Building Our Future brought together 64 different organizations to form 3 networks and 62 individuals in our community engagement work to this point: creating a system that works for everyone in the county.
Outlined in our 2018 Annual Report, we’ve done much to lay a foundation and create the space for this work to happen. In Smart Beginnings, our network has done incredible work around increasing developmental screens (using the ASQ-3), increasing the number of screens over the year by 94%. Our Early Grade Reading network, though young, has created a multi-faceted strategy, combining landlords, older students, and encouraging a love for reading to expand out-of-school access to books. We’ve also worked closely with the United Way of Kenosha County to expand their tutoring program, Readers Are Leaders, to 3 more schools and 100 more students. Our College & Career Readiness work has created both an asset map and needs assessment in the county, and will see their factor exploration culminate in a meeting February 5th, wherein subject experts will convene and discuss factors that lead to high school truancy.
Our work has also supported efforts like the Lumina Talent Hub, a collaboration between Kenosha and Racine Counties on increasing Post-secondary Access and Success, and the Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA), a confederation of post-secondary partners representing 96% of students in the M7 region.
There is, however, a long way to go. In spite of the great work our partners have done in the past year, our 3rd grade reading proficiency still sits at 39% and our 8th graders’ math proficiency is at 38%. In both subject areas, the percent of economically disadvantaged students who are proficient is about 30 percentage points fewer than their counterparts, and the proficiency gap between black and Hispanic students and their white counterparts ranges from 20-40 percentage points. These gaps perpetuate through high school completion, post-secondary enrollment and completion, employment, and average wages.
In 2019, our partnership will be looking to build on early success to reduce gaps delineated by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, so that every child can truly live up to their full potential. This includes implementing strategies, improving existing efforts, expanding our partners’ ability to use data, and even expanding our own team to emphasize community engagement.
How to Get Involved
The Building Our Future Annual Report for 2018 is available to download. Find out what has been accomplished and where we go from here.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there is a projected increase in demand for registered nurses (RNs) nationally, from 2.7 million in 2014 to 3.2 million in 2024. Additionally, there is a projected shortage of RNs due to an increase of baby boomers needing medical care as they age. The AACN hopes to increase the percent of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80%, yet are currently falling short of that: only 50% of nurses are at the baccalaureate or graduate level.
This is where Building Our Future can shine a light on the community need and on partners doing this work. If a junior- or senior-level student in the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) is interested in eventually working in the medical field, taking advantage of KUSD’s coursework at Tremper or Indian Trail High Schools to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a good start. Due to the crisis and shortage of qualified workers in the healthcare field, KUSD, in partnership with Gateway Technical College, is promoting the program as part of its Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that help students earn a living wage. After the 3-credit course completion, there is a $125 exam fee, which for 2018-2019, Gateway has received a grant to cover. Once completing and passing the exam, students receive their CNA certification from the state of Wisconsin and can then apply for a Youth Apprenticeship.
Froedtert South, located in Kenosha County, offers plenty of opportunities for students to visit Froedtert’s hospital and simulation center to see if a career in the medical field might be right for them. It’s an interactive opportunity with a two-hour simulation-based learning experience offered the first Monday (9 – 11 a.m.) and Friday (Noon – 2 p.m.) of every month. The session includes an overview of health care careers and provides an opportunity to learn more with a customized experience, where you can select from different activities like pharmacy phun, sounds of your body, internal organ puzzle, and more.
Froedtert South, and other healthcare providers, have opportunities for entry-level CNAs once they have completed their certification. Froedtert’s program offers flexible scheduling, a variety of departments to focus in, and basic life support training. This is great for high school students who want to get a head start in their medical career. They also currently have internship opportunities in the following areas: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Respiratory Therapy, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Finance, Information Services and Human Resources. Thinking about career-based learning experiences now can not only ensure students are on a path to earning a living wage after high school, but can also help Kenosha County meet its need for healthcare professionals.
Call To Action
Research has shown that third grade reading proficiency is a powerful predictor of later academic achievement. Children are learning to read until third grade, yet after, they are reading to learn. Because of the number of young children in our community who are below proficiency in reading, it’s important to support and participate in opportunities to help them reach their highest academic potential so they can succeed in school and life.
“My student was not into tutoring when we first started and by the end of it he was reading 6 books per session,” mentioned one tutor. “It was a struggle but I thought it was important to show him to not give up.” A committed and kind-hearted tutor, willing to give their time, can help make the difference in a child’s education.
From 2016-17 to 2017-18, the overall percent of third graders in our community who are grade-level proficient in reading dropped from 45% to 39%. To increase proficiency, Kenosha has a program that works with students who are below grade level. In 2017, United Way recruited 74 tutors for their Readers Are Leaders program. This year they have 200 tutors. Not only that, but the program has expanded from its flagship location at McKinley Elementary to now being available at Wilson Elementary, Brass Community School, and Forest Park Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year, all in Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD).
Community members who have been tutoring this year have also been given a lot of support in being a part of this program. “Having been a mentor with KUSD for years it was surprising how different Readers Are Leaders is,” Bunny Stoops, another tutor, said. “I really appreciated the training handouts and found them useful when I went to the school.”
Now that we’re into the new school year, United Way’s Readers Are Leaders are looking for additional motivated individuals who have 40 minutes to spare during the week to volunteer with our kindergarteners, making sure they have the best start in learning to read. Kindergarten tutors will start in February, but applications for kindergarten tutors will be available now until Friday, January 4th, 2019, with training on January 21st.
How To Get Involved
Over the years, Kenosha County has been booming in different industries. From Amazon, Uline, Jockey, Snap-on Incorporated, Froedtert South, Kenall Manufacturing and so many more; there are many opportunities in a variety of fields for individuals to get a start in. According to a recent survey done by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), the positions that companies identified as their most critical positions of need included positions like welders, maintenance repair, accountants, CNC operators, truck drivers and production planners. With multiple hospitals and health care facilities, there’s always a need for CNA’s and other positions in the health field.
What’s great about these positions is that many of them either offer training through hire or require qualifications that can easily be met through some postsecondary education at schools like Gateway Technical College that have programs for more labor intensive jobs. For example, Gateway has multiple apprenticeships where students can work for money and learn the skills they need for their career. They have a maintenance mechanic/maintenance repair apprenticeship where students over the course of four years can gain about 8,000 hours of on-the-job training with at a minimum 576 hours of paid related experience. The income outlook is between $14.50-35.27 hour salary. To be a part of this program, students have to be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be physically able to perform trade.
If a student is interested in working in the medical field where they can help those in need of care, Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) offers an incredible program to students at junior and senior level standing who want to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) by taking the courses offered at Tremper and Indian Trail. KUSD made this program available due to a crisis and shortage of qualified workers in the healthcare field, the specific requirements in the nursing program, and because KUSD wants to promote Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to help students earn a living wage. After course completion (3 credits) there is a $125 exam fee. Once completing and passing the exam, students receive their CNA certification from the state of Wisconsin and can then sign up for Youth Apprenticeship.
How to get involved
From May 2007 to May 2016, 1.9 million occupations were added in the healthcare field requiring postsecondary education for entry. This includes nurses who require a bachelor's degree and doctors or dentists who require a doctoral or professional degree.
Credentials are a way companies can measure one’s knowledge. There’s only so much one can see or assume on a resume about someone’s knowledge and what they can or can’t do, so credentials are way to relate one’s human capital and give some value. In a knowledge driven economy, credentials equal skill.
“If you look at the lifetime earnings data, the more post-secondary education individuals have, the greater their earnings tend to be. These lifetime earnings typically far exceed the cost of a higher education,” according to Dr. Robert Ducoffe, Provost and Vice Chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.“That doesn’t mean that people don’t struggle to afford college, it just means it’s still a really good investment. There are also studies that show that people who earn a higher education are more active in their communities, vote at higher rates, are more satisfied, generally, with their lives, and healthier, and they tend to pass these traits on to their children.
“Regarding enrolling in college right after high school, the data here are clear as well. The longer an individual postpones going to college after high school, the less likely they are to complete a college degree. Life has a tendency to get in the way of focusing on higher education as people get older, marry, have children, work full-time, etc.”
Not all students want a four-year degree. However, many careers that previously did not require a postsecondary credential now do. Beyond a four-year degree, there are a number of options to consider in different fields—many of which are cost efficient. Gateway Technical College has, for example, programs for those interested in going into a more hands on field, like the HVAC/R associate’s degree. In the two year program, students get to work with two homes working with radiant heat in floors, ductwork systems, and high velocity systems.
Even a career to become an esthetician or barber requires schooling that may include courses like chemistry or english. When deciding what one enjoys doing with their time be it their passion or skills that they enjoy practicing, looking into the requirements and educational degrees needed for that can help in preparing oneself early on to reach those goals.
How to Get Involved
Completing high school is usually a long awaited accomplishment for individuals, especially since many students have already been in a school setting for about 14-15 years by the time they graduate. So some may wonder, why continue education if they have already completed the degree they were promised would secure their future?
Completing high school is just one of many steps towards growth and development as an adult. People are typically finishing their high school degree around the age of 18. At this age, they are first being recognized as an adult rather than a child in the eyes of the government. Meaning: now the age requirement on many jobs is no longer affecting them, and it may seem like their future possibilities are endless. However, by 2020, it is estimated that 62% of Wisconsin jobs will require some sort of post-secondary education or credential. Along with that, those in Kenosha County without these credentials are twice as likely to be in poverty. This could potentially hinder opportunities students have after graduating high school if they choose not to continue their education towards completing some sort of post-secondary credential.
According to our Baseline report last year, only 35% of economically disadvantaged students and 54% of their not economically advantaged counterparts in Kenosha County enrolled in postsecondary education following their completion of high school. Not only that, but only 35% of Kenosha’s population has an Associates degree or higher, compared to 40% of Wisconsin’s population. These data points show us where we as a community stand in our educational fields and help give us a perspective on the life and opportunities our future generations have in their own community. We have the opportunity to raise these statistics and provide more of the choices students believe they have after completing high school.
If a student still hasn’t registered for school, it isn’t too late. There are a variety of different educational pathways students can pursue following the completion of high school. Gateway Technical College is always accepting applications and there’s even an opportunity to enroll while you’re still in high school. Want to get a taste of what college is like? Students who’ve completed 10th grade in KUSD and other schools throughout Kenosha County have the opportunity to enroll in the Early College Credit Program (ECCP) where they can take courses at UW-Parkside or Carthage College while still attending high school. With the completion of the course, the student will also receive college credit for that class at no extra charge.
In Kenosha County, high school graduates make at least $10,000 more than those who did not finish and are 42% more likely to be employed. We as a community have the opportunity to make a difference in the generations to come by providing them the tools, resources, knowledge, and motivation they need to succeed.
The current four year high school completion rate in Kenosha County is 88%, but this is not the case for all students. Although fairly high, only 80% of economically disadvantaged students graduate in four years, compared to their counterparts at 93%; and Black and Hispanic students graduate at rates of 75% and 84%, respectively, compared to their White counterparts at 92%.
Currently, only 11% of jobs don’t require a high school degree or more. Applicants for positions in carpentry, in the warehouse at Uline, or part-time in customer service at Gander Mountain are all expected to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). By 2025, it’s estimated that 62% of jobs will require some kind of post-secondary credential. To continue in postsecondary education, whether it is getting certified as a CNA, esthetician, or earning a 4-year degree in any field—a high school diploma or GED is almost always required.
Each step along the way is integral to graduation. A student not proficient in reading by third grade is 4 times less likely to graduate high school, and a student who passes algebra by the end of ninth grade is 75% more likely to graduate. Helping young students believe in their potential to understand math can make a huge impact on their future.
Regardless of whether a student is meeting these requirements, there are opportunities in our community to increase high school completion. The Boys & Girls Club offers children of all ages a safe space for physical activity and homework support. Conversations about careers and education can begin at any age, and using a resource like Career Cruising, an online tool, can help. A community united around a shared goal of increasing high school completion will lead to better outcomes for both our children and our community.
Click here to learn more about this opportunity.