Category Archives: Post Secondary

Granting Success: Amarillo College

Below is a reposted blog from our friends at Amarillo College. When a grant is approved by our governing board, it becomes a partnership with the organization who receives the grant. Organizations do incredible work in the Texas Panhandle, and below is what can happen when it all comes together.

Amarillo College was looking to expand its East Campus programs and looked to the Amarillo Area Foundation to help become a nationally accredited program.

AC’s Automotive Technology program achieves national accreditation

By Joe Wyatt

Amarillo College is pleased to announce that its Automotive Technology program has achieved accreditation by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in the category of Automobile Service Technology.

pictured are, from left, Isaac Bernal, interim program coordinator, Brian Jacob, retiring program director, and Rebecca Archer, executive secretary for the AC program.

To receive ASE accreditation, the College had to demonstrate that it meets all the rigorous standards set forth by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.

Additionally, AC underwent an on-site evaluation last fall that more than satisfied an independent committee, which closely examined the program’s course syllabi, sequence of instruction, and program training facilities, materials and faculty.

Students who study automotive technology at AC are now entitled to sit for computer-based ASE certification exams that align with industry standards and demonstrate to potential employers the level of expertise they have achieved.

“This is really exciting. Our students deserve this,” Isaac Bernal, AC’s interim program coordinator, said. “ASE accreditation gives our students the opportunity to achieve certifications that show employers how knowledgeable and dedicated to the field they are.

“We hold ourselves to a very high standard, so it makes sense that we would pursue a level of accreditation that similarly benefits our students, our industry partners and, ultimately, our entire automobile-driving community.”

Bernal and Brian Jacob, the longtime program coordinator who will retire this month, spearheaded the accreditation effort, with administrative support from Michael Kitten, dean of technical education, and David Hall, associate dean of technical education.

The entire process took about a year and a half, they said, and the new accreditation runs through 2023.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence was established in 1972 as a nonprofit organization to help improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians and parts specialists.

Today, there are approximately a quarter of a million ASE certified professionals at work in dealerships, independent shops, collision repair shops, auto parts stores, fleets, schools and colleges throughout the country.

Here’s the link to the original post: CLICK HERE

ACE Scholarship Program to Wind Down 

The current Achievement through Commitment to Education (ACE) scholarship program will wind down over the coming years as the Amarillo Area Foundation begins work with community partners to create a sustainable new program to help students gain an education beyond high school.  The Amarillo Area Foundation has operated the ACE program for more than 24 years. 

“The success of the ACE program will be felt in the Panhandle region for decades,” said Clay Stribling, President and CEO of the Amarillo Area Foundation. “We are proud of the success of the program and the scholars who were inspired to greater achievement through ACE.” 

The ACE program will continue supporting students who have signed an ACE pledge, including students who were classified as freshmen through seniors in high school during the last academic year and those pursuing higher education now. However, no new high school students will be enrolled in the program. 

“ACE will pay scholarships as long as funding remains, and the Amarillo Area Foundation is dedicated to the task of finding community partners to meet the commitment to existing scholars in the program,” Stribling said. 

ACE began in 1994 at Palo Duro High School and later expanded to Caprock High School and to qualifying students at Tascosa High School.  The program provided participants with college tuition, books, and fees if they met certain criteria. Since its inception, ACE scholars have earned 2,319 certificates and degrees, including 14 doctoral degrees. Approximately $8.3 million in ACE scholarships have benefited students over the life of the program.  

“Funding for higher education is a need for many families in our region, and we recognize it is critical to our future,” Stribling said. “As we continue our work with community partners on a scholarship program to address the needs of all AISD students, I encourage parents and others with questions, concerns, or ideas to contact the foundation.” 

NLNE The Partners: West Texas A&M Univesity

No Limits No Excuses: How did WTAMU get involved with No Limits, No Excuses?

West Texas A&M University: My understanding is that James Hallmark – who was the Provost at the time – had been involved with Amarillo Area Foundation and Panhandle 2020 and he was the first to hook in to what is now No Limits, No Excuses. I think they called it PPS at the time. So, he was the Provost and I was the Associate Provost, and he knew that I had been involved in  P16 initiatives for a while as a faculty member and so he asked me to start attending the meetings, and shortly after that, he left the university to go to College Station and I became the Provost.

But by that time, I think I knew enough about it that we had to be involved and  it’s something I feel strongly and passionate about, so rather than delegate it to someone else, I tried to maintain my role there. We’ve had several other people who have been involved in it as well.

 

NLNE:  What’s kept WT’s involvement during the five-plus years since No Limits, No Excuses has started?

WT: Well, I think you have to step back and look at the big picture. First of all, we’re an educational institution and so, educational attainment and providing people with high quality higher education, that’s the core mission of what we are. No Limits, No Excuses, even though it moves in lots of different directions, it looks at poverty, it looks at job training and all these other things, at its core it’s still about increasing the educational attainment of the region that we’re located in.

 

We can only thrive, we can only grow if the area that we’re located in is thriving and growing as well, and so in a sense, that’s maybe self-serving because a strong Panhandle means a strong WT. But more importantly, it’s what we’re put here to do. It’s our goal. It’s our mission. It’s to reach as many people in the area as we can and provide them with educational opportunities, and I think to partner with Amarillo College, to partner with AISD, to partner with business and to integrate ourselves into the community even more strongly than we already are.

 

NLNE: How has the partnership increased your relationship with other institutions?

WT: I guess I’ll answer that in two parts. Personally, I have gained such a broader understanding of how Amarillo College operates, the leadership there, their mission and certainly, the same is true of AISD. For a lot of people at the university, we don’t have to think very much or very hard about the independent school districts that are in the region.

I always joke about college professors who think that their students drop from the heavens on the first day of class, and don’t have any prior experience or knowledge. So, to learn about the issues facing them, to learn for instance, about the level of poverty, the number of children who are on free and reduced lunches, to learn about the breadth of programming that Amarillo College has.

All that is knowledge that I carry to meetings that I have on campus when we talk about, what’s our goal, what’s our vision, how do we connect with these people? It just provides me with the breadth of knowledge I didn’t have, and then connections, quite honestly, to important people like Russell Lowery-Hart and Dana West. I would probably not move in those circles otherwise if I didn’t have this connection.

As an institution, I think that the answer is also very similar. I try to share that information as I said, in meetings when I’m with the deans, when I’m with the President, when I’m with other people, to either clarify things or to point out chances for us to partner, or chances for us to work on a common initiative. Dr. Wendler is very open and very interested in those sorts of things, so I think that will pick up some steam now that he’s assumed his leadership role here on campus. Continue reading

NLNE The Partners: WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS

No Limits No Excuses: How was Workforce Solutions originally involved in NLNE?

Workforce Solutions: We became involved with the original Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant application.  There was an invitation to the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, and then that invitation eventually came our way too.  We were also involved with Panhandle Twenty/20 which initiated a lot of the relationships. Gary Pitner thought that after the initial process for the Gates grant, Workforce would be a natural partner, and here we are.

NLNE: What has kept Workforce Solutions involved in this process for the 5+ years?

WS: We have been asked to play a very important role in this initiative, and that always brings us back to the table.  If you’re asked to just show up to meetings and occasionally participate, then you might just fade away, but we have been asked to be an important player.  We have been asked to build a lot of the structure and the documentation for the success plan.  We were very invested in that process.  NLNE fits what we’re trying to accomplish as an organization.  What we want for our employers and job seekers is to fit each other’s needs.   The idea to train students in a future workforce just dovetails into what we’re trying to accomplish already.  This work is what we would be doing, a lot smaller scale, but because of the players, resources, and relationships, it’s getting done faster and more effectively.  We also stay involved because we see progress. We see things happening.  We are seeing the needle move, and we are optimistic that we are going to continue to see this happen. We signed on to a project that had a 15-year lifespan, and we did that intentionally.

NLNE: How has the partnership increased your relationships with other institutions.

WS: We are part of the conversation a lot earlier in the lives of students than we have been previously.  We were having to deal with students however they came to us, now we are getting to influence the discussion earlier.  We have a stronger voice in the school district than we did a few years ago. We are getting to be the voice of the employer and speak for them to the educational system.  We have had a lot of events and the relationships within the partnership have made those events even more successful.  A good example is what we have put a lot of emphasis on which we call career fairs or career exploration events.  Those events are much easier to build with the relationships we have with AISD.  Amarillo College accomplishes outcomes with all of use working together.  Another great example is the Career Explorer videos that we created.  We already had intentions of creating videos to highlight in-demand occupations. Allowing No Limits No Excuses to be the marketing piece so thousands of students will view these videos, that has really allowed us to leverage our work to an even greater scale.   We have always had these relationships, but inside NLNE, it’s intensified and they trust us and value us because we are on the same page.

NLNE: What changes in culture in regard to universal achievement have you seen in our area?

WS: I receive tweets from my children’s high school all the time.  They are sending information about deadlines for scholarship and FAFSA.  About two months ago, the counselor sent a tweet about the apprenticeship opportunities for the electrical apprenticeship program.  I thought to myself, “we’ve made some progress.”  I am totally impressed that we are now acknowledging at the high school level that an apprenticeship program is equivalent to a college scholarship.  Educators are now understanding that career and technical education is just as valuable as a four-year degree, and we’ve come a long way when that’s the reality.  It was a milestone in my mind.

NLNE: What role does Workforce Solutions play inside the NLNE partnership

WS:  We understand that we have a long-term goal of investing in the success plan and we are looking at a 15-year project.  Our role is to continue the course and still accomplish the parts that need to happen.  There are a lot of specific activities that we need to continue accomplishing, like our career fairs and the continuation of the career spotlight videos.  We need to provide resources to continue those.

NLNE:  What does the future of postsecondary education and workforce look like for our area?

WS: I hope our future workforce looks at what jobs are going to pay, and what jobs are in demand and then decides on an educational pathway that gets them to a productive end.  A more informed educational pathway is the short answer.

NLNE: What impact has NLNE had on your organization physically or culturally?

WS: Postsecondary education is part of our culture at Workforce Solutions. Given the mix of federal and state programs, it already exists part of our organization.  I think the Career Explorer videos are really a quality product that we may not have invested as much time and energy into if we didn’t realize how they were going to be promoted and utilized with NLNE.  Our willingness to dedicate staff time and funds was based on the knowledge that it was going to be fully utilized with NLNE’s help.  We are also having bigger and better career fairs and we are looking for an even bigger event next year.

NLNE: What impact has NLNE had on the community?

WS: I value what AISD, Amarillo College, and the other partners do to really address the needs of the student.  When I shop at the grocery store and ask my sacker what his plan is, and I was sharing the story with friend and they had the same sacker because the stories matched up perfectly.  We were very impressed with what the young man shared in his very detailed plan.

NLNE: How would you characterize success for NLNE

WS: I think success looks like the very high-level financial aid and FAFSA applications we have seen.  That then must translate to attendance at your community colleges and universities.  For me I would characterize success when there is a waiting list to get into the career and technical programs in our area.  When there is more interest in those areas than we have capacity for, that is success in my mind.

NLNE:  Is there anything else you’d like to share about Workforce Solutions and NLNE?

We have asked the community to give a lot of resources to help this initiative over a long period of time.  I hope that when we get to 2025, this initiative is going to change the culture of our community.  We want to prove to those that invested in NLNE that it was a good investment.

New Blog Series Announced!

We will be starting a new blog series beginning next week.  One of the programs of the Amarillo Area Foundation is No Limits No Excuses.  This initiative is made up of over 25 partners who are working to create pathways for post-secondary success.

We think you’ll find this blog series extremely interesting as you see the complete picture of why NLNE is so impactful.  You will also learn how the partnership is shaped and how it’s working to create a community with increased education across all socioeconomic levels.

We begin the series with a look at Workforce Solutions.  We will share these posts across our social media platform, but you can always subscribe to get our blog updates in your inbox, browser, or wherever you choose. Here the link to subscribe: http://bit.ly/aaf_RSS

 

Finding Will

NLNE_header

I am busy. That’s my attitude most of the time. I am just too busy to solve the world’s problems. I am in the stage of life where balance between life, family, and work is key. I literally have no time. Besides, I am just me, one person, what can I do. I am sure you find yourself with the same sentiment at times.

Then, I sat through what I like to call “the indoctrination of Doug Curry.” Have you met him? Have you ever heard him talk about young people? He inspires you to put aside your own expectations or judgments. He talks about chance encounters and how to influence our young citizens. He has a plan to ensure all students are pestered until they create a plan for life after high school. So, now, wherever I go, I ask young adults, “What’s your plan?”

Doug and Dr. Dana West started this movement, and now I cannot stop asking the question. One day, an unsuspecting sacker at United, whom I will call Will, was just minding his own business. I asked him where he went to school, he said, “Tascosa, I’m a Rebel.” He said that in a way that let me know it wasn’t just his mascot, but perhaps a way of life.

Then I released the hounds, “What’s your plan after high school, Will?”

He stuttered and spurted and finally let it out: “I’m an artist, I don’t think school is for me.”

“Really? I have a ton of friends who are artists, and they all went to school,” I replied.

“Yeah, I don’t like people telling me what to do when it comes to art,” Will said back.

It was clear that I was dealing with the typical thoughts of teenagers, who today have a lot of pressure on them. “You know graphic artists are very talented, and they do really important work. The process of school will not make you lose your artistic expression, but more like unearth all the talent that’s within you. Amarillo College and WT both have great programs for artists,” I explained. Continue reading

#WHY ACE: They’re Already Winners

Blog_header

The Evolution of ACE on WT’s Campus

Kyle Moore, Director of Admissions at West Texas A&M University (WT), is perhaps the largest advocate of ACE we have met thus far in our blog series. And, no, he was not an ACE student nor is he compensated for giving ACE promotional pitches, but he does so on a regular basis and we wanted to figure out why.

Upon meeting Mr. Moore and thanking him for agreeing to talk about ACE with us, he immediately divulges, “No, thank you. I am pleased to talk about ACE and how it has increased in scope as well as quality in regards to the type of students it delivers.”

Flattered to say the least, we push for more insight from Moore.

“Previously,” Moore affirms, “ACE used to be a label if you will, indicating to professors that ACE students may require more one-on-one help, more mentorship. But that is not the case anymore. Professors now ask for and look forward to having ACE students in their classes because they are coming to college more prepared than the average student.”

Moore proceeds further with his compliments of ACE by stating, “In admissions we look forward to hiring ACE graduates. They understand deadlines, they have an incredible work ethic, and they are eloquent and polished.”

And we think Moore sums up “the ACE student” perfectly when he says: “ACE students are already winners. They overcome a lot of barriers to get to college, and that confidence instilled in overcoming those barriers gives them a momentum and progression to continue succeeding in college. ACE students are not students who couldn’t get to college without AAF’s support, they have that drive within them. They are going to college and excelling in college because of the preparation AAF’s support has given them.” Continue reading