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"There is an old African proverb: If you don't embrace the young in your village, they will return later to burn it down for its warmth."
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending YouthBuild's 40th Anniversary Celebration & Gala in New York City. The event brought together YouthBuild leaders, program graduates, ardent supporters, and partners like Penn Foster to celebrate YouthBuild's rich history and bright future.
On April 6th, friends and families gathered to watch their loved ones reach a significant milestone in their lives, as Chicago CRED welcomed its newest group of 27 high school graduates. Twenty-six men and the program's first female graduate walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas, taking an important step in their journey to make a difference in their communities and create better lives for themselves and for their families.
I recently had the pleasure of travelling to beautiful New London, N.C. to watch 100 young adults, varying in age from 17 to 19, walk proudly across a stage in front of an audience of friends and family as they received their certificate of graduation from Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy " New London. Penn Foster partners with Tarheel ChalleNGe to offer an accredited high school diploma through the program; I was invited to the ceremony to help celebrate the achievements of the 22 students in the class who were also receiving their Penn Foster High School Diploma.
At YouthBuild's 12th Annual Instructor Leadership Institute earlier this month, we announced YouthBuild graduates Kevin Wilson and Elijah Childs as the first recipients of the Dorothy Stoneman Scholarship. The scholarship fund, named in honor of YouthBuild Founder and long-time CEO, Dorothy Stoneman, who retired in January 2017, was created to help deserving YouthBuild and Penn Foster High School graduates continue their education in an associate or bachelor's degree program at Penn Foster College.
Career colleges, workforce investment boards, and youth organizations all share a similar goal: to provide their learners and clients with skills that will ultimately get them a job and put them on a pathway towards a long-term, sustainable career. To that end, these organizations have to consider both the short term market demand, as well as the long term career outlook for various positions and career paths. Additionally, they must look at all the primary and auxiliary skills that may be necessary in a given profession or career path, when developing their curriculum. While the primary or career-focused skills take precedence, including auxiliary skills, especially business and entrepreneurial skills, can lead to improved long-term outcomes for learners and organizations alike.
The unemployment rate for youth and young adults, ages 16-to-24-years-old, is double that of the national unemployment rate. This high level of unemployed or underemployed youth is an epidemic that is affecting an entire generation. This is not the only problem affecting the job market. Employers are having a hard time finding the right candidates to fill their positions. The Rockefeller Foundation Study, "The State of Entry-Level Employment in the U.S.," shows that 43 percent of employers consider sourcing candidates as one of their biggest challenges.
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Blended learning is the combination of traditional classroom education and digital elements, such as interactive applications on a laptop or online homework and reading. Many schools are embracing technology to promote learning. One area where technology performs particularly well is improving English language learner and low-income student outcomes.

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