Grants keep Learning Bank doors open

    Since its grant funding ended in September 2011, the Learning Bank has been seeking financial support from a variety of public and private sources to continue its operations and community services.
    Opening on Feb. 6, 2010, many lives have been changed through the services provided by the Learning Bank Network of Monroe County.
    The Learning Bank has helped adults in the community with completion of GED’s, enrollment at MCCC, and obtaining training for new careers.
    To help start the Learning Bank Network, a $300,000 No Worker Left Behind Demonstration Grant was awarded by the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth in 2009.
    Only ten grants were awarded in the state, and the original grant covered the period of Feb. 17, 2009 through September of 2010.
    A second No Worker Left Behind “Scale Up” grant was awarded to the Learning Bank (one of only five awarded in the state), in the amount of $200,000. The Scale Up grant covered the period from Sept. 14, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011.
    The College has just been awarded a third grant in the amount of $50,000, which will fund operations though June 2012.
    As part of this most recent state grant, the Learning Bank Network will be exploring the feasibility of extending Adult Basic Education and GED preparation to areas currently lacking those services, via distance learning.
     The Learning Bank recognizes that there are several school districts within Monroe County that do not have adequate resources to provide such services, and there is a critical need to assist people in attaining ABE/GED’s, and transitioning to higher education and/or employment opportunities.
     The Learning Bank also recognizes that in reality, many students with high school diplomas seeking admission to MCCC score below the developmental level and need remediation to be successful in college.
    “MCCC does include as part of our educational objectives, that we provide intellectual and personal development for adults in a wide range of lifelong learning opportunities,” said John Joy, dean of Corporate and Community Services.
    “The college must be part of the solution to the problem of inadequate basic skills,” Joy said.
     Joy said he thinks this educational inadequacy is a communitywide problem that should be supported by the entire community, including state funding.
    Grant funds are used to pay operational expenses on the Learning Bank Offices, and also towards instructor and tutor wages/benefits, internet services, software, instructional books and supplies, and testing equipment. MCCC is one of twelve community partners that have supported the Learning Bank Network with either cash and/or inkind service.
    In addition to these partners, organizations such as The LA-Z-BOY Foundation, The Knabusch Trust, Rotary Club of Monroe, and Meadow Montessori have provided financial support, along with several individual donors.
    “Clearly, the state has been pleased with the performance of the Learning Bank Network by continuing to award grant funds” Joy said. “The Community has been very supportive as well.”
    Other services the Bank offers are GED Prep and Testing, Tutoring, National Career Readiness Certificates Prep and Testing, Career Counseling, Financial Literacy Classes, Computer Literacy, Life Skills Seminars, and Resume Workshops.
    In addition to those services, the Bank wants to build on the idea of a more student- centered learning environment.
    “We are hopeful in the next few months that the state will entertain our application to establish a state supported learning lab similar to those funded in the Detroit area,” Joy said.
     The Learning Bank is located in a former Monroe Bank and Trust branch office at 1102 E. First St.
    MB&T has donated $20,000 per year in cash and is currently allowing the Learning Bank to use the office/classroom space rent free.