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Advocate will help LEAVEN clients to degree

Two years ago, Fox Valley Technical College worked with nonprofit organizations, grant funders and employers to address an employment problem in the Fox Valley.

The problem is that there are 10,000 unfilled jobs in the region for which employers are seeking technical school graduates, and a significant population of people with potential who are unemployed or working for lower wages. Mary Downs, executive director of the FVTC Foundation, said the school and its partners wondered how they could make the people match the jobs, even though many of them didn’t have a high school diploma or the financial resources to go back to school.

Mary Downs, photo courtesy of The Post-Crescent

The solution was an education advocate (pictured above) who could work closely with the students to address their financial issues and achieve a graduate-equivalent degree, get help learning English or enroll in a FVTC program.

The education advocate works at a number of nonprofits, among them LEAVEN. Organizers discovered that the clients coming from LEAVEN tended to be highly motivated and ready to pursue education. Based on its success there, the FVTC Foundation applied for a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership and received $168,403 over three years to double the program’s impact by adding a second advocate dedicated to working with LEAVEN clients.

The Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund is supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation, the J.J. Keller Foundation, Inc., and other community partners.

Downs said adding an advocate embedded at LEAVEN means the program will be able to help more people. LEAVEN also has satellite operations that allow the education advocate program to touch rural areas including Hortonville, New London, Seymour and Chilton.

The goal is to have 150 client contacts per month. The new education advocate is to be in place by mid-February.

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