The goal of WIN is to give people a second chance. For decades, communities, foundations, and individuals have sought ways to take people from welfare to work.
For far too long, individuals have been left by the wayside. We feel we have a contribution to make to address this nagging problem, and we want to try to make a difference.
Students in the program have been as young as 17 and as old as 60. Age is of no concern to us. Our concern is simply that participants have an interest in changing their lives, since we feel, if students put in the effort, they will be able to improve their opportunities.
The first class of students spent 18 months in the program. Since we do not provide stipends for participants, we found students were dropping out for financial reasons. So, because we felt we could provide the basic skill set graduates would need to be gainfully employed in roughly six months, we adjusted the length of the program.
Our efforts have underscored the difficulty of dealing with this problem and the fact there are no quick fixes. Our first class had a 10% completion rate; our second class graduated 20% of those who began the program; our third class had a 28% completion rate; and our most recent class had a graduation rate of 58%. Clearly, the trend line is a positive one, and we are very much encouraged by the increasing graduation rates and the reactions of those in the program.