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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Kathleen Johnson, West Kern Adult Education Network

Partnerships help increase access to adult education services

The Challenge

The West Kern Adult Education Network covers a large geographic area that has a small, widely distributed population and many of the residents are challenged socioeconomically – 13 percent live below the federal poverty level. In addition, 23 percent do not possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and 12 percent speak limited English. In order to help the region’s individuals improve their personal situations, while also helping to improve the local economy, the consortium had to find a way to ensure that residents throughout the network had access to adult education services that could prove life-changing for some.

The Solution

After a year of dialogue with partners and community members, the consortium emerged with a consensus to focus on four key areas: GED, English as a second language (ESL), literacy and citizenship. Using the results of a needs survey and a demographic analysis, the consortium developed a strategy to make education accessible to the community by partnering with businesses, schools, churches and other organizations. Community centers were established in Taft and outlying communities. For example, Spanish GED classes were held at an Episcopal church in Taft, and citizenship classes were taught at a Methodist church. A needs assessment was conducted to locate a center in Maricopa. To help remove barriers to education, classes were supported with childcare by the Taft College childcare center.


Plan implementation is in beginning stages, but the strong outcomes for Spanish GED offerings, collaboration and outreach for citizenship classes, and response of community churches and businesses provides the initial indications that this model will yield positive results for the region.

The Data

More than 40 community members showed up for an organizational Spanish GED meeting, an the initial class had 20 students and is growing. There have been multiple inquiries for evening child care, where the center is making available evening capacity to serve up to 60 children from birth to age 5. Harder to quantify, but equally relevant, is the high level of community interest in partnering to grow this effort quickly to meet need.

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