Disconnected Youth, Academic Recovery and Workforce Training – Joe Youcha

Teaching with Small Boats

This is a time of great need and opportunity in our communities. Luckily small boats can provide efficient, effective tools for programming. There are great resources available through the Teaching With Small Boats Alliance (TWSBA) and Building to Teach (B2T). If you don’t know about these groups, you should learn more. Proven teaching tools are available for free from both sites. Who knows, you may even find a local partner.

“Disconnected Youth”… “Academic Recovery” … Before the Pandemic, these terms were perceived to apply to only a small portion of our young people. They are now being applied to a huge percentage of the school age population. A recent piece in Forbes discussed the 6 million disconnected youths now in America. The piece featured a TWSBA/ B2T group, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, as an organization trying to address that need in their community.

“Academic recovery” refers to how we, as communities, help get our children back on track in school. The Pandemic has proven the tragedy of the digital divide. One inner city charter school that has been successful with in person math instruction had almost a 60% math failure rate in some grades. Many, many children also fell behind in reading and writing.

The good news is that there’s an unprecedented amount of Federal funding that is planned to be spent over the next 2 ½ years to address these problems. According to a recent Chalkbeat article, there is  $26 Billion “Academic Recovery” funding in the last Covid relief bill, and a portion of these funds can be used in after school and summer programs run in partnership with local schools. This is a real opportunity for schools to be working with their local “small boat” groups.

There are also real Workforce Development opportunities outlined in the proposed Federal Infrastructure Bill. The American Jobs Plan Fact Sheet from the White House States:

“President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $100 billion in proven workforce development programs targeted at underserved groups and getting our students on paths to careers before they graduate from high school.” The opportunities are obvious.

The training funding will focus on: 

  • “registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships”
  • “creating one to two million new registered apprenticeships slots”
  • “strengthening the pipeline for more women and people of color through pre-apprenticeships”
  • “the creation of career pathway programs in middle and high schools, support[ing] community college partnerships that build capacity to deliver job training programs based on in-demand skills.”
  • “investments in Expanded Career Services and the Title II adult literacy program” (This is an opportunity to teach the math on the TABE using the Carpenters’ Union’s Career Connections and other related, hands on, materials.)
  • Investing in “inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries”

Since the funding will need to be rolled out quickly, it likely will be distributed through existing funding pathways, such as: 

  • Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
  • WIOA: Adult Training and some Youth Training
  • Department of Education
    • Perkins V: High School and Middle School Training
    • Title 1: High School and Middle School Training
    • Centers of Maritime Excellence
  • Coast Guard and Navy
    • Maritime related workforce funding will likely flow through them, as well.

Again, these are real opportunities for maritime groups to serve their communities. Explore the opportunities in your area.

What’s Happening with Small Boats?

If you want to find out what small boat groups are doing in their communities, take a look at the last TWSBA Program Call. The “Project Calls” have been the most successful virtual TWSBA sessions we’ve had since the Pandemic started. This call featured:

  • A middle school boat design/ build class which is based on model boats and mini full size boats.
  • A maritime workforce program that uses the ABYC Fundamentals of Marine Technology curriculum and then progresses into USCG certification for becoming a Qualified Member of the Engineering Department.
  •  A Maritime Museum which set up a maritime contextual school for students during Covid.

And, here’s the link to February’s project call

Small boats are great teaching tools. If you’re teaching, make sure you’re using the best tool for the job!