Saturday, September 28, 2013

$50,000 To Local Library System For Unemployed Skill Training

LABELLE, FL. -- The Southwest Florida Community Foundation announced today that the Hendry County Library Cooperative has been awarded one of the Foundation’s largest grant awards in this grant cycle.

$50,000 will go towards a new initiative called “I-HELP”, which is an acronym for “Impact on Hendry Employability Library Program”. The proposal was developed by Ms. Ava Barrett, Library Cooperative Director, and County Grant Writer Janet Papinaw, inspired by a highly skilled, but unemployed library customer. 

Papinaw states “This program was designed to provide training to the unemployed, underemployed, and small business entrepreneurs, to help build their skills for success”. 

The Hendry County Libraries have partnered with Goodwill Industries, the Southwest Florida Workforce (SWFL Workforce) Development Board, J Groves Group (formerly of the Florida Gulf Coast University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Hendry County Economic Development Council, and will administer the program under the direction of Ms. Barrett. Member libraries are Harry T. Vaughn (Clewiston ) Public Library, Harlem Community Public Library, and LaBelle Free Public (Barron) Library. 

The program will offer business start-up classes in the libraries; provide classes promoting educational growth and basic technological employability skills; and offer easy access to computers and on-line resources. A small business resource and training center will be created at the Clewiston Library, to be utilized for this program.

“The idea of I-HELP is to demonstrate that libraries provide more than just books. Libraries are obligated, as a public service organization, to do its part to help alleviate the economic, technological, and educational challenges of the community. Libraries serve many important roles in people’s lives such as safe havens, centers for free education, and community gathering places”, said Barrett.

In this initiative, the SWFL Workforce Board will expand their “Youth Connections” program for transitioning at-risk high school students into the workforce; Goodwill Industries will provide computer readiness skills, employment readiness skills, and micro-enterprise classes; J Groves Group will provide a 10-week “Business2Day/Independence2morrow” curriculum; and the Hendry County EDC/Leadership program will provide presentations on developing leadership skills.

Low to no income, underemployed and unemployed residents of Hendry County will be targeted and provided opportunities to complete their education, start or receive support for a small business, improve computer literacy, and or develop employability skills to gain employment. “Now the real work begins and I look forward to working with all of our regional partners for the good of the residents of Hendry County” Barrett said.

Formal classes will begin in January during the libraries’ evening hours.

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