The Socorro Independent School District Community Education program has been named a finalist in the national Rethink Adult Education Challenge by the U.S. Department of Education.
“We have a phenomenal team to get these things done in our district,” said Anthony Fraga, SISD Director of Community Education. “We all have the potential for greatness, and I believe our district strives for that every single day.”
SISD was one of 95 finalists announced in the challenge, a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships to give adult students the opportunity to explore new learning and experiences.
The SISD Community Education program will now participate in the next phase of the competition and compete for $750,000 total in prizes.
For the Rethink Adult Education Challenge, SISD submitted an idea to expand the Community Education pre-apprenticeship program into other areas of construction industries.
Currently, the SISD adult education department has a highly successful pre-apprenticeship program in the electrical field.
SISD was selected by an expert review panel to progress to the next phase, the Stage 2 virtual accelerator. During Stage 2, the finalists will have access to digital resources such as case studies, various activities, and webinars with adult education experts to help them develop detailed program proposals.
Apprenticeships serve as a pathway into careers across different industries, and many times adult learners encounter barriers or challenges when trying to access them.
Pre-apprenticeships break down those barriers by equipping adult learners with the knowledge and skills they need to enter and succeed in apprenticeships, which can expand access to rewarding careers across the nation.
“If we win the grand prize, we hope to expand on the construction trade,” said Mary Jo Ochoa-Hernandez, Career Pathway and Transitions coordinator. “As this pandemic happened, we were all sent home except for our construction workers. I think we can definitely expand on that trade here at SISD.”
SISD will be in Stage 2 of the challenge from February through June, working with the experts to develop its pre-apprenticeship program proposal.
A judging panel will then review the Stage 2 proposals and select one grand prize winner and up to five runners-up. The challenge will award $250,000 to the grand-prize winner, and up to five runners-up will each receive at least $100,000 for their programs.
“I think this will be a great opportunity for community education,” said Dr. Eduardo Honold, SISD Community Education grant compliance specialist. “I think our department has always had this philosophy of innovation and we really are always looking for ways to challenge ourselves and ultimately provide better opportunities for the community.”