08:34 AM

Community Impact: Jackson County Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP)

Based in Hoschton, the Jackson County Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) works to increase graduation rates and employability options through its support of adult education and family literacy for Jackson County residents.

The nonprofit organization recently received a $12,400 Jackson EMC Foundation grant to subsidize GED exam costs for students.

“The largest barrier to GED enrollment and graduation for Jackson County residents is the exam fee,” said CLCP Executive Director Lisa Paez. “Anticipating this expense can be overwhelming and prevent students from enrolling.”

To help residents advance their education and obtain employment, CLCP recruits community support and funding sources while implementing literacy programs for adults 16 and older. Students are required to attend classes at least three hours a week and make regular learning gains. In 2019, Jackson County CLCP served 649 clients.

Paez describes the organization as “the social go-between” that connects GED students with career advisors and employment recruiters, health services and daycare providers.“

Students often can’t focus on tests because they’re worried about daycare, feeding their children, paying bills, things of that nature,” she said. “The CLCP is the wraparound service that utilizes every local resource we can find to meet every challenge for these students. That way, when they’re in class, they’re focused on getting that diploma and not stressed about everything in the background.”

Almost all CLCP students who pass the GED earn more than a diploma, according to Paez who says they receive job training as well.“

That way, their pay rate is likely to be higher and they’re qualified to go into continuing education,” she said.

The Jackson EMC Foundation grant has been a huge help for students, according to Paez who says, “The four GED exams cost $40 each for a total of $160, and since most students are unemployed or underemployed, that’s a huge challenge for them and one of the main reasons they don’t graduate.”

On top of that, most CLCP students take an average of 16 to 20 practice tests to ensure they pass the GED, and those are $6 apiece, Paez adds.

“The Jackson EMC Foundation grant gave us a little pot for practice tests and a giant pot for exams,” she says. “The grant made it possible for students to pay for their exams, so right now, there’s no excuse. The barrier of paying fees is gone. This grant gives us the flexibility to help a lot of people. And improved literacy not only helps residents increase in self-sufficiency – it helps the state attract new business and jobs.”

For more on Jackson County CLCP, visit jacksoncountyclcp.org.