The College Step-Up & Transitions (CSU-T) program at Good Will – Hinckley was originally developed for students that were aging out of foster care and lacked the support necessary to pursue post-secondary educational programming (particularly, stable and supportive housing). We quickly realized the need for CSU-T services extended beyond just foster youth. We expanded our reach and further developed the program, offering services to more youth. We now have two separate “tracks” in the program. The Academic Track is for students that want to pursue the degree or certificate option, and the Vocational Track is for youth interested in entering the world of work but need some job readiness skills. Life skills and community engagement are embedded in both tracks, and transition planning begins early on. The goal is to help youth develop the readiness to be independent and to prepare them to be able to navigate real-world situations as they arise. In essence, we do our best to build “human capital” in the youth we work with so they can feel comfortable striking out on their own, and can be productive community members wherever they may land.
We have a young man that entered our CSU-T program in need of significant skill-building. He wanted to pursue a post-secondary program at Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC), but he lacked the life skills and discipline necessary to “stay the course”. He knew that, without specific and prolonged guidance, his pursuit would come up short. He entered the program and, in the beginning, he continued with the bad habits and lack of discipline he wanted to correct. He’d become comfortable in his routines and railed against the program and the guidance offered. He tripped himself up from time to time as he traveled down the path of his school program; learning that college work takes time and attention. He had to fail a class or two because sometimes “life” has to be the teacher. All along the way, our CSU-T Advisor stayed consistent with him, bringing him along, helping him up when he fell, and offering sound advice and guidance to help him through the challenging times. This young man eventually opened up to the incredible amount of assistance the program has to offer. He developed his skillset to the point where he was passing all classes, asking for help when he needed it, and he developed strong relationships with the Advisor and other staff on campus. Does he still trip up from time to time? Yes, he absolutely does. The difference now is he doesn’t stay down too long. He realizes mistakes much quicker and he’s more able to help himself up in the process.
In May, this young man marched in his KVCC graduation. He earned a certificate in welding, just moved out into his first apartment, and is working at a local McDonald’s while searching for employment in the welding field. We were all very proud to watch him pack up his room, taking comfort in the knowledge that what he learned in the CSU-T program will serve him well. We know he won’t be a stranger. Our relationship with him will continue, but we also know the human capital he was able to develop in the CSU-T program will significantly increase his ability to successfully live an independent and productive life.
16 Prescott Drive, PO Box 159
Hinckley, ME 04944