A new GED program funded completely through industry and community support is providing educational opportunities for dozens of students in its first months of operation.
Begun earlier this year, with its first testing session held in February, the Advance Adairsville GED program already has exceeded its expectations for student interest. Classes are overflowing and a waiting list is in place for the three classes held each week at Adairsville’s Jackson House.
“There is a lot of interest in the program. There’s a lot of community support and there’s a lot of student interest in Adairsville. Students range in age from 17 to mid-50s. Right now, we have approximately 30 to 35 students enrolled and we have a waiting list for April,” said Advance Adairsville President Sharon Southerland. “Adairsville needed a GED program. There was a need for it here, and we wanted to provide something for the residents of this area that couldn’t travel to Cartersville or elsewhere for classes.
“Our seed funds and a major portion of our funds came from Yanmar America Corporation. They made a substantial donation to this program and that has gotten it off its feet.”
Yanmar stepped in to help get the GED program started after Advance Adairsville met with city leaders last year to see how the community organization could best benefit the residents of Adairsville.
“Advance Adairsville got together with the mayor and the city manager and discussed what needs were in the city that did not fall under the city government,” said Advance Adairsville Chairman John Doyle. “We decided if there was something [Advance Adairsville] could do, we would like to do it. [Mayor Evan King’s] suggestion was this GED program. At that time, employers were having trouble finding applicants — not that there weren’t enough applicants, but qualified applicants — because they didn’t have a GED or high school diploma. So they had openings they couldn’t fill.
“We started asking industry around Adairsville and they all had the same qualifications, GED or high school diploma. ... We scheduled a meeting with Yanmar and they also were having the same problem and made a financial contribution that helped the program along a lot faster than it would have on its own.”
Not only does the Adairsville GED program offer a way for students to continue their education, but one of the program’s main objectives is to provide all its services free of charge. Advance Adairsville does not charge for books, instruction or the final exam, which students must take at Chattahoochee Technical College.
Yanmar’s initial commitment will continue annually, but organizers already are seeking additional funds to help meet the need that has been realized since the program opened its doors. The Advance Adairsville GED program held its first fundraising event last week at Barnsley Gardens Resort with live and silent auctions raising a profit of $10,000 for the cause.
“Friday’s benefit went very well. It was a great community effort. I think the community had a great evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. The proceeds that will go to the program are a little over $10,000,” Southerland said. “That will allow us to buy much-needed tables and chairs because we have a lot more students than we anticipated having. It also will allow us to pay for more testing for students. We budgeted for 25 students, and by the time we get into April, we’ll be at 40 or more students. So these funds will allow us to pay for more students to take the test and it will allow us to look at more instruction for the program.”
With the aim of educating all applicants and creating an employable workforce, Advance Adairsville is dedicated to covering all financial burdens of a typical GED course, a commitment Doyle said extends to securing transport for testing at Chatt Tech’s north metro campus in Acworth.
The Advance Adairsville GED program meets each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Applicants interested in attending are asked to call 770-877-1550. Those interested in donating time or resources may call the same number.