Studio 300 and Adult and Teen Services also work hard to promote the online learning resources that can count towards credits (classes) on the Passport track, such as Lynda.com, Gale Courses, Universal Class, Mango Languages and Brainfuse.
by Laura Katauskas | Bugle Staff
Thanks to a grant-sponsored program and the efforts of the Fountaindale Public Library, barriers to employment and advancement are being vastly reduced for those who simply hold a library card, opening new worlds for many.
The Fountaindale Public Library District saw a need and when the opportunity for a grant arose, the district seized the chance, creating a program it hoped could change lives.
“Passport to Success,” a program for district patrons, kicked off Oct. 1 and is tailored to specifically challenge, or “Eliminate the Digital Divide” that keeps someone from effectively attaining computer skills. The Eliminate the Digital Divide grant was written in hopes to specifically support basic training programs to increase digital literacy.
Since its start, more than 250 people have enrolled so far with an additional 600 people taking classes through the Studio 300 program list.
“We are delighted to offer this program to the public, and are proud to have designed a program that really works for a wide array of learners, is offered in two languages, and can be tailored to each participant,” said Deputy Director Catherine Yanikoski. “We have seen this program make a huge impact and increase the public’s awareness of the resources available to them with a library card. This grant program has made it possible for people to graduate with a high school diploma, prepare for a business interview, learn skills they need on the job, take classes of all types in Spanish, learn digital skills for fun and meet new people. What a success!”
In fact, she said, libraries across the country have called and asked how the district is doing what it is and if they can borrow ideas for their own communities.
The Passport to Success program offers four unique tracks to meet the needs of different groups in the community and includes the Community Track, introducing patrons to personal computer technology and software, a new wave of social media, e-reading devices, and free online classes. The Español Passport provides many new classes for patrons who prefer or need Spanish-language technology classes. The Business Passport, and the most popular, is the first step to learning and enhancing business skills and career ambitions. This track is described for those that want to break into a new career or to make a move into the job market, and offers resume writing, job searching, and LinkedIn classes to give patrons the connections and inspiration to follow their dreams.
The program also offers the Diploma Track which is available to patrons 19 years or older. Once patrons complete the Diploma track they will have the opportunity to apply for one of the 75 grant funded scholarships for the high school diplomas.
Yanikoski reported that many are progressing through Fountaindale’s Diploma Passport track to earn a chance for a Career Online High School scholarship.
“ People are amazed that the Passport to Success grant has made it possible for the library to offer scholarships for interested residents to earn an accredited online high school diploma at no cost (a value of nearly $1300),” said Yanikoski. “Those who have been awarded a new laptop, have earned flash drives, or have won our monthly drawing prizes have been very appreciative. Businesses have expressed a strong interest in enrolling their employees in the program and to provide professional development opportunities so close to home, at no cost.”
Yanikoski said the library is using the resources it already has in place, like the vast technology equipment in Studio 300 and the numerous classes they currently offer, and are bringing it all together to complement the Passport to Success Program developed with grant funds.
Studio 300 has been co-offering Passport classes which have been attended by more than 600 registrants, one third of which has come from Studio 300 programs. Studio 300 and Adult and Teen Services also work hard to promote the online learning resources that can count towards credits (classes) on the Passport track, such as Lynda.com, Gale Courses, Universal Class, Mango Languages and Brainfuse.
Studio 300 and Adult and Teen Services co-hosted the first Passport to Success University initiative held Jan. 10, which was a full day of classes and Passport promotion. Another initiative is being planned for April.
Fountaindale continues to seek increased enrollment in all four Passport tracks (Business, Community/General, Español and Diploma) and encourages district residents and businesses to enroll themselves or their employees in the program.
The district intends on having all 75 high school diploma scholarships awarded this year and are seeking opportunities to help promote the grant to local organizations and businesses who will help the library get the word out about this limited time offering of high school diploma seats and its on- site and distance learning opportunities.
Those that complete the Passport will qualify to enter in a drawing to win one of several new laptops and other monthly drawings of technology tools, and all participants will earn a flash drive halfway through the program.
Fountaindale is the first Illinois library to partner with Gale/Cengage Learning to provide access to Career Online High School, an accredited online high school program.
A completed Passport to Success packet will earn each participant a Certificate of Completion, a ticket towards a drawing for a brand new laptop, and the opportunity to earn one of the diplomas while available. Others prizes also will be available.
In order to get started, patrons 18 years and older can simply visit the library and pick up their passport packets.
The Passport program lasts through June 30, 2015. A listing of all classes and programs will soon be posted to the district’s website at www.fountaindale.org.
If you have immediate questions about the program, call 630-685-4216.