SLATE’s new and unprecedented workforce program have extended services for youth customers after SLATE’s normal closing hours at 5 p.m. Never before have young adults, many of whom are working parents, had an opportunity to attain a High School Diploma and jump start to better jobs with support services available to them 24-hours a day.
To deliver services, SLATE, in partnership with St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), has opened a virtual high school at its location at 1520 Market Street. This SLPS satellite, called the Workforce High School (WHS), is for young adults, ages 17-21, who have previously dropped out of school. Eligible candidates must be eligible to attend school at SLPS.
Under the program, in addition to high school curriculum and access to teachers, a computer lab, educational resources and technical assistance, young men and women will have 24/7 access to education mentorship and case management services. SLATE will help young people navigate responsibilities at home, school, work, at times dealing with probation and parole, handling doctor visits, and providing daycare for their children.
“There is a gap in services for young people who dropped out of high school. They are in need of a second chance and a different venue to get their high school education,” said Dr. Alice Prince, Manager of SLATE Young Adult Workforce Division. “Many of them are parents, some are working two or three jobs, but they still need a way to get their education. We are meeting them where they are,” she said.
Dr. Prince also said that workers with a High School Diploma or GED have a better chance of landing a better job and live above the minimum wage. She says many young adults, especially those with children, do want to do better for themselves and their families. Once they complete their high school education through WHS, SLATE will continue helping them find better employment and career options.
To operate WHS, SLATE will be using federal funding from its regular budget for youth services, in addition to SLPS funds. So far, 20 young men and women have been enrolled into the program. Dr. Prince said more than 20 young adults are on the waiting list.
“This is the first time that the St. Louis Workforce Development Board (WDB) has opened a high school that is operable 24 hours a day,” Dr. Prince said. “Every youth who dropped out of school, who is willing to go back, deserves an opportunity to complete their education and sometimes this can’t be done during normal business hours, between 9 -5, because their lives aren’t so normal.”