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Adult Education and Employment

In the first decades after World War II, it was still possible for an Ohio worker with a grade-school education to get a well-paid factory job with benefits, save up to buy a house and put his children through college. Now education is crucial to getting out of poverty. In 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that high school drop-outs earned an average of $408/week, high school graduates, $583 a week, and people with bachelor’s degrees $937.

In Ohio, school districts with above-average high school drop-out rates cluster most densely in the southern part of the state, including pockets in Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and several of the Appalachian counties. In some communities the drop-out rate exceeds 30%. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Appalachians are especially vulnerable. In 2001, Ohio’s Hispanics had a high school drop out rate of 8.9% and African-Americans 9.2%, compared to 3% for non-Hispanic whites.

A serious income gap shows up even among people with the same educational attainment. In 2001, white high school drop-outs averaged $24,000 a year compared to $18,000 for African-Americans; while white college graduates averaged $54,000 a year compared to $40,000 for African-Americans. Hispanics’ income also lagged significantly behind that of non-Hispanic whites with the same level of education. (Source: Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green University, “Ohio Population News: Education in Ohio,” February, 2004.).

Given the massive loss of well-paid jobs with benefits over the past few years, competition for living wage jobs has become more and more intense. Tutoring and career coachng ministries tackle this challenge at its root. Some churches, such as Our Saviour, Cincinnati; St. John’s Columbus or St. Peter’s Gallipolis, offer free adult literacy or GED programs. Others are engaged in job readiness programs like the Jobs & More ministry aided by Christ Church Springfield. Another effective mentoring ministry is Bridge of Hope, with a team at St. Timothy’s, Anderson Township. Like aunts or grandparents, these volunteers offer child care and all kinds of other practical help to low-income parents working to complete post-secondary degrees to boost their earning power even more.

For a list of churches in the diocese that have ministries addressing this issue, go here. You can network with them for ideas to establish or enhance your own ministries.

For other non-profit entities that may be helpful sources of information on community needs and program design, go to our Other Resources page.

A proud and happy GED graduate at the Lower Price Hill Community School in Cincinnati.

Young Parent

A young parent developing her career skills at Jobs and More, an ecumenical ministry supported by Christ Church Springfield.


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