George, a high school dropout in his early twenties, is an adult learner whose story illustrates the close ties among the partners of the North Idaho College Adult Education Center. When a knee injury forced him to leave a well-paying manual labor job, George was referred to the Adult Education Center by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). The DVR counselor advised him to earn his GED diploma in order to find a new job. Since he enrolled at the Adult Education Center, however, George's goals have expanded from simply wanting a GED diploma to wanting a college education. As he explains it, "I now see myself going on to school. I never considered college before coming here." For the first time, he says, "I can help my two daughters with their homework. Before, I didn't understand what they were doing."
With its adult learner population spread over 7,662 square miles, partnerships are a matter of survival for the North Idaho College Adult Education Center. Located in the Panhandle region of Idaho, the Center provides services to residents in five counties—Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, and Shoshone. The most efficient way for the Center to deliver services to such a sparse and widely dispersed population is through collaboration with a variety of partners, such as North Idaho College, the Workforce Investment Board, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Health and Welfare, the Job Service (an office of the Department of Labor), correctional facilities, and community organizations. The Center also offers adult education services in six outreach sites scattered throughout the region.
The Adult Education Center, its outreach sites, and its partners are working together to create a seamless system of services for adults with education and employment preparation needs. By sharing resources and avoiding duplication of services, they can offer residents assistance ranging from gas vouchers and childcare to adult basic education (ABE) and career guidance. Regardless of which agency or community organization adults approach, they are quickly linked to the Adult Education Center if they need basic skills instruction.