JFF Teams with Turning Point Brooklyn to Help Young People Find their 'Best Bets'
Turning Point Brooklyn (TPBK) is a community organization in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood that provides services to help local residents of all ages make positive changes in their lives.
TPBK offers a variety of social services to the community, as well as educational programs. The Education Center at TPBK offers an Opportunity Youth program and a College Bound program. The Opportunity Youth program is designed to provide a high school equivalency (HSE) diploma to older youth who have not completed high school, with structured opportunities for internships and pathways to higher education. The College Bound program is for young people who have already graduated from high school, or hold HSE diplomas, and are looking for guidance in continuing their education.
In the summer of 2017, TPBK's Education Center joined with JFF's Best Bet Services team to integrate its MyBestBets (MBB) online career and postsecondary exploration platform into TPBK's education curriculum. The Best Bet Services and TPBK teams have been working closely during the 2017-18 school year to get students onboarded and using MyBestBets in TPBK's College Bound and Opportunity Youth programs.
Through the use of the MBB platform and resources, TPBK's collaboration with JFF made its student-centered approach to education and career exploration even stronger. The following three elements were key to ensuring that the students at the Education Center deepened their understanding of what a "best bet" meant to them:
- A comprehensive approach
The idea of a "best bet" is simple: Young people are empowered to choose a postsecondary pursuit (whether it be a short-term credential program, an apprenticeship, or college) that will lead to a credential that has value in the local labor market. Identifying a "best bet" is less simple-and it should be. It involves a big decision-what to do after graduating from high school or earning an HSE diploma-that, if hastily made, can lead to no degree and debt, a credential that doesn't actually lead to a job in the field the student trained for, or a job with no opportunity for advancement.
In the age of an ever-changing landscape shaped by technology, a framework for choosing one's next step is more important than ever.
Let's unpack the three key elements that help young people at Turning Point identify their own best bets.
Staff at the Education Center feel that MyBestBets has made the path to career and educational attainment clearer and more tailored for participants in TPBK's educational programs. Turning Point staffers start with each student's needs, perspective, and interests as the basis for setting career and educational goals. MyBestBets activities, including but not limited to learning and personality style assessments (which use the Holland Code), fit well with TPBK's student-centered approach.
Additionally, the Education Center staff have found that MyBestBets allows for flexibility within curriculum development and program implementation. This allows the staff at TPBK to readily meet students' varying academic and English language needs. Staff members also feel that having a peer coaching model and manual, with peer coaches assisting program participants, has also allowed for flexibility.
3. Comprehensive Approach
The process of integrating MBB with the TPBK curriculum was rather seamless, and it elevated the curriculum to include conversations about career and education, instead of career or education. Understanding that some students want to head straight into the workforce, the TPBK staff and peer coaches leveraged the MBB step-by-step planning activities with labor market information, training, and employer data to help students connect their career goals to training or education. This training might be an apprenticeship, a work-based program, or a program run by a funder. Combining New York City-specific short-term training data on MBB with the TPBK team's own knowledge of the students' needs made it possible for students to look into industries and careers that they hadn't considered before.
MBB was used in a blended way to promote a student-centered, flexible, and comprehensive approach. The Best Bet framework and MBB platform have proved to be an asset for the Turning Point Education Center curriculum and students.
Jermel Royal and Joseph Zimmerman of the Education Center at Turning Point Brooklyn, and Dantel Proctor and Clare Bertrand of JFF, contributed to this piece.