WSW: Life Guides Offer A Long-Term Path Out Of Poverty
Goodwill Industries CEO John Dillworth says “If you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to get the same result.”
Dillworth says the desire to do something different led to the Life Guides program. It’s a 20 year commitment for families that want to exit poverty with a child 0-3 years of age.
Families are nominated by schools, business or foundations. The program started four years ago with 20 families in Kalamazoo and another 10 Allegan County. Life Guide Jennifer Fletcher says there is an interview process for families recommended for Life Guides. She says there are “not a lot of hoops.” But Fletcher says the families do have to show a commitment to education and employment.
Fletcher says part of the goal is to work with families on problem solving skills. She says three families have left the program because they did not meet requirements.
Dillworth says it’s still too early to measure how the youngest children are doing in school. But he says their older siblings have shown improvement in reading levels. Dillworth says five of the families have moved out of poverty. But he says Goodwill Industries is working to make sure that those families don’t fall back in to poverty.
Dillworth says he would like to expand the program. He says that would require business, foundations and schools in communities have to commit to working with Goodwill Industries on the long-term endeavor.