Local foundation to help Muhlenberg Co. graduating seniors be better prepared for college; first work to provide online coaching, student aid application support

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Nov. 24, 2016

Martin Foundation creates Muhlenberg Achieves program
By Keith Lawrence

The Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation has created Muhlenberg Achieves, a program designed to help graduating seniors transition from high school to college.

Gail Johnson, program manager, said Muhlenberg Achieves "is for any graduating senior seeking additional education, whether their goal is to pursue a bachelor's degree, associate's degree or a trade certificate."

Alyssa Manning, program officer for the Foundation, said, "We considered the work of the Muhlenberg 20/20 Vision committee, which determined that one area of focus for Muhlenberg County must be education and the need to develop a skilled, educated work force so that Muhlenberg can offer what businesses today need."

She said information from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet showed that within 15 years, 80 percent of jobs will require training beyond high school.

Manning said the new program is designed to help high school seniors successfully prepare to be a part of that work force.

In its first year, Muhlenberg Achieves will focus on an e-COACHING program and on assisting students in completing their applications for federal student aid.

Johnson said the e-COACHING program will pair participating seniors with community volunteers who will provide support for the student.

The student and e-COACH will communicate primarily by text or email throughout their last semester of high school and the following summer and fall, she said.

Volunteer e-COACHES will help students by reminding them of important deadlines and "providing structure to a process that can be quite overwhelming," Johnson said.

She said e-COACHES will commit about 10 hours annually in assisting two high school seniors.

That includes training, at least one face-to-face meeting with students and texting.

"We have the power to change the direction of education attainment in Muhlenberg County," Johnson said. "With higher percentages of adults attaining degrees and certification come opportunities for new business and industry along with a more qualified work force pool for existing employers to select from."

For more information, to find out how to enroll or to become an e-COACH, contact Johnson by email at gail.johnson@muhlenberg.kyschools.us or by phone at 270-543-7042.

The Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation was created in 2008 by a bequest of $50 million in Martin's will to benefit the educational, civic and cultural needs of Muhlenberg County.

Each year, more than $2 million from the earnings of the endowment are distributed in the county.

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