Get Ready: RTW program offers resources for students
Aug. 12, 2019
For most of her career history, Jane Reeves worked heavy labor jobs. She’s been
a truck driver and she’s worked in plants. At one particular plant, she was working
on an assembly line and severely hurt her knee. That meant no more heavy lifting,
no more standing on the line and no more hoisting herself in and out of a large truck.
“All of a sudden I couldn’t do anything I had been trained to do my entire life,” Reeves said.
Although the door to heavy labor jobs was closed to Reeves, the door to Ashland Community and Technical College was wide open.
In 2015, she enrolled in classes, but about halfway through her first year, her struggle became almost too much to handle.
“I realized I was drowning,” she said. “I couldn’t pay my bills, I was about to lose my house. My daughter was struggling because I was struggling. It didn’t go very well.
“I got to the point where I was really upset and frustrated and I didn’t think I was going to make it anymore. I was actually walking right out the front door and I got stopped by somebody who saw how upset I was. And he said, ‘Have you ever heard of Ready to Work?”
The room full of more than 60 ACTC students who were hearing Reeves’ story on Tuesday already knew about Ready to Work (RTW), because they were already enrolled. In fact, they were attending a RTW mini conference co-sponsored by the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence to learn about various community resources that could remove as many barriers as possible between them and their college degree and career goals.
Much of the day was geared toward financial literacy. Josh Juckett and Terri Rowe from BB&T Bank presented information on how to identify spending habits and make good financial choices based on priorities and goals.
Olivia Spradlin of the KCADV, spoke about her agency’s resources, including micro loans and emergency savings individual development accounts.
Conferences like the one on Tuesday, as well as RTW’s other resources are how Reeves said she became a success story.
“Thanks to Ready to Work, I am where I am today,” she said.
RTW is a partnership between the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Community Based Services. RTW is designed to assist low-income parents that are either enrolled at a KCTCS institution, a former KCTCS student seeking employment, working with Kentucky Skills U or on a high school diploma or have a barrier to enrolling at KCTCS, such as student debt.
The program offers such resources as support as the student balances family, work and school; work study opportunities that do not reduce certain public benefits; advocacy and mentoring; access to daycare and transportation assistance; and employment skills training.
A RTW work study student may work (at minimum wage) up to 30 hours per week in a TANF/KTAP funded work study placement without impacting her/his KTAP check. The opportunity to place work study students on or off campus with both private sector and non-profit employers helps prepare them for the workplace with experience in their field of study.
The student gains resume building work experience and job coaching and retention skills as well as extra income while employers have an opportunity to provide job training and recruit and hire KCTCS/RTW students and graduates.
RTW coordinators work closely with students and TANF case managers to assist students in meeting their TANF core participation requirements through work study and expanding their opportunity to remain in college pursing their academic credentials.
When Reeves was a student at ACTC, RTW helped her get employment at the college in Student Support Services. She graduated with a 3.9 GPA and an Associate in Arts degree and an Associate of Applied Science degree in business.
Since RTW was introduced at ACTC more than 20 years ago, Regina Miller, program director, said there are many employers in the FIVCO area who have hired students in the RTW program.
“The reason Ready to Work is so successful is because all the community partnerships are so positive and helpful,” Miller said. This helps the community too. Because you are taking someone from assistance to a full-time career in the community.”
After finishing up at ACTC, Reeves transferred to Eastern Kentucky University where she is majoring in global supply chain management. This summer she interned with the city of Ashland, and will continue that internship this fall.
“I have a long way to go yet, but I’ve also come a whole long, far way from where I started,” Reeves said. “If I can do it, every single one of you in this room can walk across that graduation stage just like I did.”
For more information on enrolling in the RTW program or information on how your business can partner in the program, contact Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-326-2216