Helping adults move forward

Hope Center Indy and Marian University to offer adult education programs to the public, free of charge

By Nicole Davis

There’s nothing worse than feeling stuck. Without a high school diploma or technical certifications, a person might feel they’re not able to move forward in life, not able to get a better job with higher income.

Hope Center Indy, in partnership with Marian University, is aiming to remove some of the obstacles that may cause adults to not pursue furthering their education, by offering adult education courses to the public, free of charge.

“I’m grateful for the adult basic education programs because they have been able to give hope to a lot of people,” said David Taylor, Project Build instructor and professional development facilitator at Marian University. “With these programs, there’s unlimited possibilities.”

Hope Center Indy is a nonprofit in Franklin Township which focuses on the recovery of women exiting human trafficking, addictions and other situations. The center offers programs to help the women in their recovery and to be successful once they get out on their own again.

Hope Center Indy Education Director Dr. Pingnan Shi and right, Hope Center Indy Executive Director Hubert Nolen. (Submitted photos)

Pingnan Shi came to Hope Center Indy as its education director in 2019, in charge of helping the women earn their High School Equivalency (HSE). Staff from Marian University’s Project Build program began talking with the center that year to provide the HSE classes. Project Build is an adult education outreach program which tends to center itself in community centers and easily-accessible locations.

“While we were working on helping the residents of the center get the high school equivalency, we also talked about how to do the same with the public, the people in the Southeast neighborhood,” Shi said. “There is currently no adult education center in this neighborhood.”

Project Build received funding for the program which has allowed Hope Center to add an Adult Education Center inside of its facility. HSE classes are scheduled to begin March 1, serving Indiana residents 18 and older without a high school diploma or college degree. Classes can hold eight to 10 people and will take place Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m. Students should commit six hours per week. This fast-track program takes three months to complete.

The center will also soon begin offering industry-recognized certifications such as Microsoft and IT Fundamentals once enough interest has been obtained.

Marian University’s Project Build offers classes for adults to earn their high school equivalency or IT certifications at locations across the city.

“We’re really excited about being able to serve in another area of the community,” said Judy Bardonner, Ph.D., director for Center for Community Learning at Fred S. Klipsch Educators College at Marian University. “We’ve had great success in the past with helping people earn their HSE’s. We’re hoping to make an impact in people’s lives so they can go on and get a better job.”

Adults interested in the classes can earn their HSE, earn the technical certifications and work with the instructors to figure out what’s next.

“We help with business plans or if they want to go to college, we navigate the ins and outs,” Taylor said. “They have a lifetime membership for our services. We’re a family. We will have students from five years ago come in and see us. Our students definitely remember that experience.”

For more information or to apply, visit marian.edu/educators-college/community-outreach/project-build.

Dr. Judy Bardonner, Evan Casey and David Taylor, from Marian University.

Did you know…

– Every year, more than 2 million students drop out of high school in the United States. The Indiana Department of Education states that 470 students from the class of 2020 dropped out sometime during high school.

– Students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds or low-income families are 2.4 times more likely to drop out of high school than students in middle SES families, and 10 times more likely to drop out than higher SES students.

– Full-time workers with a high school diploma earn almost $10,000 more per year than those without a diploma.

– In 2020, 65 percent of all U.S. jobs required education or training beyond high school, yet 38 percent of the workforce, 59 million out of 166 million adults, has only a high school education or less.