A Northwest Baltimore shopping center held pathways to a GED last weekend.
Information access nonprofit Libraries Without Borders and the Enoch Pratt Free Library organized a General Educational Development (GED) Fair on Saturday along with sevent additional Baltimore organizations. As it seeks to provide access to resources for education and economic opportunity, Librarires Without Borders staff are making a point to go into the community.
The event was held in the parking lot of the Edmondson Village Shopping Center, where residents could walk through and, in some cases, drive through.
“We knew it was important to meet in person because we want to meet the residents where they are,” said Alexis Taylor, Baltimore project coordinator for Libraries without Borders. “We wanted to capture as much foot traffic as possible in an organic way.”
It was designed to help close a gap in career readiness: According to an Abell Foundation report issued in 2019, an estimated 81,000 adults in Baltimore City over the age of 18 do not have a high school diploma. For residents, the event offered a look at the programs that offer pathways to complete GEDs or the National External Diploma Program.
It’s the latest way the org has taken that approach locally. In 2019, it teamed with Enoch Pratt Free Library to open tech access points in local laundromats, and launched ConnectED to provide devices and Wi-Fi in the pandemic.
In September, Libraries without Borders expects to hold expungement clinics with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service to add to the career development resources it offered Saturday, as the org aims to to take a more holistic approach to its brand of community support.
“We don’t just want to provide a laptop or computer. We want people to use technology to complete tasks that make their life easier, put them ahead and in a better position to thrive,” said Taylor.
Here are the organizations that attended Saturday and the resources provided:
This org provides a free, four-week course that trains students for jobs in the energy sector. The curriculum is certified by the National Center for Construction, Education & Research, and includes four weeks of paid, supervised on-the-job training, during which trainees safely and accurately install solar panels and battery storage on facilities with diverse roof styles, as well as offsite ground mount systems. Even after the month long program, Power 52 provides 12 months of mentorship to participants.
The organization provides free counseling, information and technical assistance to adults and youths interested in going to college or other postsecondary schools. It’s a place for those looking to attend college or a trade school, but aren’t sure how to navigate federal financial aid processes, where to find scholarships or are unsure what their career option even are.
Located in East Baltimore’s Milton Montford, LIFT is a place for comprehensive adult education program, offering classes in literacy, adult basic education (ABE), GED preparation, and computer lab instruction that meets students where they are. The organization offers specialized classes for learners with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities, and is dedicated to providing quality literacy instruction and life-skills training to adult learners and assisting these individuals in becoming self-reliant, life-long learners.
With a public library card, anyone 19 years or older who has successfully completed grade 8 can earn their high school diploma online for free with a scholarship at Career Online High School.
A collaboration between the Stillmeadow Community Fellowship Church and Libraries Without Borders will open a learning center for the Edmondson community in the fall.
The state has GED prep classes and programs like the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) that are meant to aid in earning a high school diploma. These programs are free and paid for by your tax dollars, so take advantage of them.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-