When describing Santa Monica, many would consider it to be a well-educated community. However, the City of Santa Monica’s 2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card shows that 8% of high school students in Santa Monica do not graduate. The level of education attained greatly affects people’s success in their lives and careers. Santa Monica Public Library is here to help members of the community achieve their educational dreams!

As part of the Library’s Vibrant Learning Center strategic plan focus area, the library is providing two paths for adults to reach their educational goals: Career Online High School, and the Second Chance Learning Program. Both tie in with the City of Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career initiative’s objective of “helping 16-24 year-olds build the skills needed to get jobs and careers that lead to livable wages and room for advancement.”

Through a grant from the California State Library, Santa Monica Public Library is offering qualified community members age 19 and up the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate through Career Online High School. Part of the world’s first accredited, private online school district, Career Online High School is specifically designed to re-engage adults into the education system and prepare them for entry into post-secondary career education or the workforce.

“Earning a high school diploma is a life-changing achievement,” said Erica Cuyugan, Interim Director of Library Services. “By offering Career Online High School, we’re empowering our community to seek new opportunities and transform their lives.”

Santa Monica Public Library will award scholarships for Career Online High School to qualified learners looking to earn a high school diploma and advance their careers. Once enrolled, Career Online High School pairs each student with an Academic Coach, who assists with developing an individual career plan, offers ongoing guidance and encouragement, evaluates performance, and connects the learner with the resources needed to demonstrate mastery of the course material. Classes are supported by board-certified instructors and students have 24/7 access to the online learning platform. Coursework begins in one of eight high-growth, high-demand career fields (across a wide spectrum from child care and education to certified transportation), before progressing to the core academic subjects. Many students are able to graduate in as few as four to six months by transferring in previously earned high school credits.

Those interested can learn more about Career Online High School at http://smpl.org/cohs.aspx.

Second Chance Learning Program

Beginning its second year at the library is the Second Chance Learning Program, which offers formal General Education Development (GED) preparation instruction designed to complement the courses offered at the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District’s Adult Education Center. The focus of the Second Chance Learning Program is helping community members attain higher levels of education to enable them to reach greater levels of success.

The Second Chance Learning Program consists of twice weekly GED preparation classes for the public offered at the Pico Branch Library, and provides support with GED and career resources at the library. The library will also provide vouchers to cover the GED test registration fees to learners who meet attendance requirements.

Learners in the successful first year GED cohort at Santa Monica Public Library overwhelmingly reported greater confidence in their ability to pass the GED exam, and increased their scores on the official GED Ready practice test. Their goals are within reach, and they are looking forward to continuing the GED classes this Fall.

For more information on the Second Chance Learning Program and the GED preparation classes, please email stephanie.archer@smgov.net.

Stephanie Archer is the Montana Avenue Branch Manager, and the coordinator of the Career Online High School and Second Chance Learning Program for Santa Monica Public Library.

By Stephanie Archer