by CAROL ANNE SMOCK
The Goodwill Education Initiatives, a nonprofit created by Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, opened its first tuition-free high school for adults, The Excel Center, in 2010. Since then, the project has expanded to include six centers in Indianapolis and nine throughout central and southern Indiana. A Bloomington location opened in July 2019.
“We’re just really pleased to be in Bloomington and working with employees and other partners and supporters of this opportunity,” says Kent Kramer, president and CEO of Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana.
The Excel Centers are for adults “looking for that second chance to earn a high school diploma,” says Kramer. They provide free educational and career opportunities for more than 4,000 individuals.
“We have social service organizations and other educational organizations referring students to us, and we hope to provide resources as needed,” Kramer says. And these resources are extensive. Students not only have access to quality education provided by board-certified teachers, they also receive transportation assistance, free child care, and life coaching.
The Excel Center provides an individualized approach to accommodate students’ unique needs and situations. Students work with a life coach to find a plan that works for them, and schedules are flexible. Most students attend classes Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., but evening classes are also available. Fridays are set aside for additional tutoring. For students with young children, Kramer says the on-site Young Learners Child Care is a “safe place to bring your child while you’re learning.”
Education at the Excel Center does not stop with high school coursework. “We work hard to work with the individuals and connect them with a certification,” Kramer says. “A lot of times it’s to continue their education while they are earning money and experience in that job.”
Students can work toward becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, Clinical Certified Medical Assistant, or pharmacy technician, to name a few of the options available.
For more information visit excelcenter.org.