February 8th, 2011 – Today the New York City Council kicked off a citywide campaign to get more New Yorkers to sign up for the GED and for free adult education courses at the Upper Manhattan Workforce1 Career Center. Speaker Quinn, Council Members Robert Jackson and Diana Reyna launched “Bridge To Tomorrow’ which is pilot program by the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) that will connect individuals who come into a Workforce1 Career Center without a high school diploma to GED testing and test preparation courses. The Speaker was joined by Cami Anderson, Superintendent of Alternative High Schools and Programs for the New York City Department of Education, Angie Kamath, Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Development at the New York City Department of Small Business Services; Lianne Friedman, Chief Operating Officer for the Office of Adult and Continuing Education for the New York City Department of Education; Tara Colton Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education of the City of New York ;Jacqueline Cook, Consultant and Adult Literacy expert and representatives of SEEDCO, which operate the city’s Workforce1 Centers.

“It’s hard enough in this tough economy to find a good paying job. Without at least a high school diploma or GED the chances of getting a good job are slim to none,” said Speaker Quinn. “We need to connect those looking for work with the essential skills for people to head out to the workforce. The GED is the first step toward helping them realize better lives, and we want all New Yorkers to be able to take advantage of its benefits. The ‘Bridge to Tomorrow’ program will help make that happen.”

The pilot program announced today is designed to improve the chances of employment for those seeking a job without their high school diploma. This program will help provide them with a pathway to a GED or other adult education services that meet their needs and will support them in their transitions to employment, college or training while they are en route to a good paying job or while they continue to work in their current job and seek new employment opportunities.

“We know that increases in educational attainment translate into increases in lifetime earnings,” said Cami Anderson, Superintendent of Alternative High Schools and Programs for the New York City Department of Education. “The Bridge to Tomorrow Pilot is a great example of how interagency coordination can ensure New Yorkers are able to access the programs and services we offer so they can increase their life options.”

“This program truly serves as a bridge, linking those who are seeking to improve their skills to the Workforce1 set of services,” said SBS Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Development Angie Kamath. “By partnering with the Department of Education, our Workforce1 Career Centers will be able to provide more services than would have been possible on our own. We look forward to seeing ‘Bridge to Tomorrow’ help many New Yorkers earn their GED and, as a result, qualify for better jobs.”

“Bridge to Tomorrow promises to provide a brighter future for job seekers,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “For far too long, New York has lagged behind other states in GED passing rates. Using this type of partnership model will equip job seekers with the support needed to enhance their education while increasing their chances of gaining meaningful employment. It’s the best of all worlds. I look forward to working with Speaker Quinn and my other colleagues in supporting this great initiative.”

“‘The Bridge to Tomorrow,’ is a unique pilot program that will track the progress and maximize educational credentials enabling New Yorkers to find work,” said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. “We are reminded daily that the people of our great city are struggling – we want to dedicate resources creatively through our Workforce1 Centers helping individuals complete their GED coursework and get placements through a structured program that trains individuals with career skills that increase their employability. ‘The Bridge to Tomorrow,’ is a great step in the right direction of getting our communities back to work.”

“In today’s economy, there are a shrinking number of jobs for New Yorkers who lack a GED or need to improve their basic skills,” said Tara Colton, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education. “The Bridge to Tomorrow pilot will help ensure that jobseekers who enter our Workforce1 Career Centers without a high school diploma or GED are referred to one of New York City’s many free adult education programs, and can find or advance in a job once they have achieved their educational goals.”

“The launch of the Bridge to Tomorrow Initiative couldn’t be more perfectly timed,” said Jacqueline Cook, Consultant and Adult Literacy expert. “Many of the thousands of New Yorkers who come to Workforce 1 Career Centers each week have slim chances of finding employment because they lack a GED or high school diploma. Through the Bridge to Tomorrow Initiative, they can find both – a clear path to a GED diploma and employment. A structured assessment and supported referral in the BTT Initiative make it possible to find a program of study and express access to the GED Exam. And with a diploma in hand, these graduates find a dramatic increase in the number of companies interested in hiring them. The positive impact on the individuals and the city’s economy couldn’t be more direct; this is a key ingredient to building the workforce of tomorrow for the jobs of tomorrow.”

When people walk into the Workforce1 Center, they will go through an initial assessment and they will get asked if they have their high school diploma or GED. If they don’t they’ll get asked if they are interested in getting their GED. If they say yes, they’ll go through the GED Bridge:

The three sessions of the GED Bridge include:
1. An overview of the GED exam.

2. Administration of the GED Official Practice Test, simulating GED test conditions

3. A next steps session during which participants will receive an analysis of their test results and feedback on their essay. They will then be referred to one of three program options, based on their test results:
If they meet the minimum scoring requirements they will be referred to the next GED exam, bypassing waiting lists.

If they are close to meeting these minimum requirements, they can attend a 6-week “Gateway” class that meets 3 days a week. Upon completion of the 6 weeks, they will be referred to take the GED Test if you are now ready.

If their results indicate that participants would require more than 6 weeks to prepare to succeed in passing the GED test, they will be referred to the Education Bridge. Here they will have a one-on-one consultation in which the Borough Liaisons will help them to map out their educational goals and plans for reaching them. They will be able to choose the program that best meets their needs at an education program offering convenient schedule options.
Throughout the process, students will continue to have access to all Workforce1 services. ‘Bridge To Tomorrow’ Borough Liaisons will provide support as they proceed towards their educational and employment goals.

In 2009, 27,000 out of the 160,000 people that came through the city’s Workforce1 Centers, did not have a high school diploma or GED. In New York City alone, more than 1.6 million adults don’t have their high school diploma or its equivalent.

About the DOE Office of Adult and Continuing Education

The New York City Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE) is the largest provider of adult literacy education services in the state. OACE part of the New York Department of Education’s District 79 – Alternative Schools and Programs.

OACE offers over 900 classes for adults age 21 and over and operates four Adult Learning Centers located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx and they offer day and evening classes Monday through Saturday at more than 175 sites in all five boroughs, including public schools, community based organizations and faith-based organizations. Students can take classes at any of OACE’s sites, regardless of which borough they live in. All classes are taught by certified teachers and are offered free of charge (tuition-free).

Ongoing registration for classes in Adult Basic Education, High School Equivalency (GED), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) is held regularly at schools and offices around the city. For more information about OACE, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/AdultED

About the Department of Small Business Services Workforce1 Career Centers

SBS runs New York City’s workforce development programs, which connect employers to a skilled workforce and provide training and placement services to the City’s adult workforce. Workforce1 Career Centers are located throughout the five boroughs and provide the City’s job seekers with a full array of employment services including career advisement, job search counseling, skills training, and job placement. SBS operates these centers in coordination with the New York State Department of Labor and the City University of New York, combining the expertise of many different organizations to provide a seamless network of employment services and business development resources.

Shirley Limongi (Council)-(212) 788-7125
Barbara Morgan (DOE) (212) 374-5141
Sarah Krauss (SBS)-(212) 513-6318