In This Section
A.S.T.R.O. Reading Club
According to studies 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above the fourth grade level. 75% of Americans who are on welfare perform at the lowest two levels of literacy. The data is abundantly clear Reading is not only FUNdamental it is essential to an individual’s development and future success. That is where the A.S.T.R.O. Reading club comes in. The purpose of the A.S.T.R.O. Reading Club is to introduce children and adults to the wonderful world of reading. Participants have the opportunity to gain a wider view of the world around them as they travel through space and time, explore foreign lands, go on thrilling adventures and meet historical figures all without leaving their neighborhood. At the club readers have the ability to read alone, in a group and or receive individual reading assistance.
In the United States 1.3 million high school students dropout. In Kern County the high school dropout rate is 16.2%, most of those who drop out are low income, and 90% end up on welfare. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that low income students dropout at a rate five times than middle-income families and six times higher than higher-income families. Parents in low income families are often employed in low wage jobs which characteristically have non standard work hours and little schedule flexibility leaving them little control over their schedule. This means they are not often available to ensure that their children complete their homework or receive the help they need. Couple that with classroom overcrowding, which results in less one on one instructional time, and low income students are often left on their own with no one to turn to for help with their homework.
The Homework Club is a safe, supportive educational space where children of all ages can receive help with their homework either from our volunteers or their peers. Providing the Homework Club gives students the knowledge, confidence, and help they need to ensure that their homework gets done and done correctly. It also gives their parents peace of mind to know that their children are receiving the help they need when they cannot be there themselves.
The purpose of the Community Science Institute is to provide children ages 8-17 exposure to science, technology, engineering and math in a fun environment where they don’t even realize that they are learning valuable life lessons. The participants of our programs are often below grade level and additional support is needed to help them be more academically confident. Our programs aim to assist youth in developing self esteem, and a lifelong love of learning. This is accomplished by providing programs and projects that are fun and provide opportunities for academic enrichment and supplement what is being learned in their traditional environment. Because of their financial circumstances youth living in our low income housing developments don’t often have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular and/or enrichment activities. The Housing and Opportunity Foundation seeks to provide participants those opportunities while emphasizing the importance of education. In its third year, the Community Science Institute continues to grow and motivate youth to see themselves in STEM related fields and the hands-on involvement with projects bring STEM to life. Chevron’s support in previous years has had a significant impact on the youth participating in the programs. Specifically, we have youth who did not consider any STEM careers as a possibility who are currently enrolled in college pursuing engineering, math, and computer programming as careers. We have youth who were below grade level who are pushing themselves to improve so that they too can pursue a higher education. While the Community Science Institute has focused on providing youth access to hands on curriculum, the impact has gone beyond the sessions. The instructors have managed to tie the importance of understanding how science, technology, engineering, and math affect everyday life including its impact on financial well being, which for our youth is at the core of changing their lives for the better.
Whether it is for tuition, books or supplies, completing or furthering your education takes money. The Scholarship Program is designed to assist Housing Authority residents and Section 8 participants to continue their education. To qualify for a scholarship, individuals must: reside in a development managed by the Housing Authority of the County of Kern or be a participant of the section 8 program, be accepted for attendance at a college, technical/trade school, submit a written application, with two letters of recommendation and transcripts. Scholarship awards range in amount from $500.00 to 2,000.00
Youth Construction Training Program
Getting a job is tough, but it is even tougher when you have never had a job or are trying to reenter the workforce after a long period of unemployment. The Youth Construction Training Program was developed in 2009 and is funded through Employers’ Training Resource (ETR) to assist unemployed youth in obtaining skills to earn their first job in the construction field. Out of School Youth ages 18-24 years old who currently reside in Low Income Public Housing of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern voluntarily apply to the Youth Construction Training Program in order to gain job readiness skills and entry level construction experience. Before participating in hands-on construction training, an outlined job readiness course will teach youth how to generate a career pathway by formulating basic life skills, proper job etiquette, and self-promotion in the hiring process. Upon completion of this course, youth will be referred to a partner construction agency, provided with the appropriate work attire and materials to be successful in a Core+ training program.This program ensures participants have the necessary skills to compete for an entry level construction job. The Youth Construction Training Program will increase the trainees’ marketability by presenting them with nationally recognized certificates and credentials accompanied with construction skills acquisition.Trainees will earn National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certifications and credentials while receiving hands-on training in one or more of the following industries: craft skills, basic rigging, basic safety, and heavy equipment safety.
In School Youth Kick Start Program
The In School Youth Kick Start Program is aimed at work-readiness and basic literacy skills attainment for youth living in affordable housing. This program provides a work-readiness component, and basic literacy skills development (tutoring). The youth that participate in our programs normally are not targeted for summer youth work experience programs, or specific targeted tutoring at their schools. We hope to meet their needs and eliminate the gap that exists in their access to services by preparing them for the summer workforce and/or by helping them increase their literacy skills. The purpose of this program is to assist teens in becoming job ready while encouraging them to stay in school and explore career options. Many of our youth do not have the experience or skills needed to be competitive in today’s job market. The program we have developed is aimed at assisting youth in becoming job ready, improving their literacy skills and developing a career plan.