ABOVE PHOTO: Members of the JEVS EDUConnect team (pictured, from left to right): Jessica Baer, director; Cheryl Liedman, community engagement manager; Shadeed Sabir, success coach and Karen Clarke, lead success coach. (Photo/courtesy JEVS)
JEVS Human Services, one of the largest social service agencies in the region offering skills training and career enhancement opportunities, recently partnered with University of Massachusetts Global to expand educational opportunities through JEVS EduConnect. The program connects Philadelphia-area adults with an accredited, flexible online education option they need to achieve a college degree.
The unique element is the support and guidance of a JEVS success coach who works with the student from enrollment through to the end of their degree program.
A private nonprofit university operating through 25 traditional West Coast campuses plus a virtual campus, UMass Global (formerly Brandman University) offers more than 96 degree, certificate, and professional credentials for working adults. Beyond providing JEVS clients with another option for post-secondary education, JEVS EduConnect represents an integrated approach to helping adults in the community — many who have families to support and other socioeconomic obstacles to continuing and completing an education — to pursue a degree along a competency-based learning path that not only accommodates their scheduling needs, but fits their interests, immediate career goals and lifelong ambitions.
Moreover, with the support of JEVS Post-Secondary Success Coaches, individuals participating in the program will get results-directed support throughout their journey — from identifying their needs and goals, to applying for financial aid, to choosing the right degree type, area of interest and programming, to continued career guidance making them more valuable to current or potentially new employers.
JEVS piloted its program to change the landscape of post-secondary education in January 2019 by partnering with Southern New Hampshire University. JEVS saw UMass Global as the natural choice for its next partnership, based on the ways their programming, completion rates, university culture, options, services and resources parallel foundations already established. With an increased capacity to serve students on the East Coast, uniting with UMass Global significantly expands the options and opportunities JEVS can offer to the Philadelphia community.
“We are thrilled with the extent to which UMass Global has expanded JEVS’ ability to serve the Greater Philadelphia community, and their commitment to serving nontraditional students,” said Jessica Baer, director of EduConnect at JEVS Human Services. “Our mission is very much aligned with UMass Global’s mission, who shares our drive to empower working adults to move forward in their education, careers and personal fulfillment. With students at the center of their work, UMass Global has a very personal approach by curating each adult’s unique academic pathway to meet their specific needs and aspirations.”
JEVS Post-Secondary Success Coaches support students every step of the way, from enrollment through graduation. Coach activities include: assisting with enrollment and financial aid processes; onboarding participants into the program; helping students to create a work plan that enables them to fit their online coursework into their daily lives; problem-solving challenges ranging from finding a quiet place to work at home to understanding what a project is asking them to do; organizing student study groups; and working to accommodate working students with evening phone or video chat sessions.
“With the pandemic driving so much uncertainty in our world, this program and the opportunities we now offer in partnership with UMass Global couldn’t be better timed,” Baer said. “More than just offering a path to a college degree, we’re giving people an exhilarating way to see and work toward a promising future.”
Prospective students interested in learning about JEVS EduConnect can sign up for a free webinar at: www.jevshumanservices.org/jevs-college-degree.