Tucson Job Corps Center

Organization
Organization Name: 
Tucson Job Corps Center
Organization Director: 
Joe Altamirano
Program Name: 
Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center
Street Address: 
901 S Campbell Ave.
City: 
Tucson
State: 
AZ
Contact
Contact Person: 
Elaine Rodriguez
Contact Title: 
Center Safety Officer/Disability Coordinator
Contact E-mail: 
Program
Program Summary: 

The Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center, located in Tucson, Arizona, currently serves 300 young men and women between the ages of 16 and 24. The Center primarily serves youth from Tucson and Southern Arizona, with about two-thirds of the youth residing at the Center. The goal is twofold: to teach marketable skills in a safe and supportive setting; and to find meaningful employment for students when they leave the program. A variety of course offerings, including basic education leading to a GED or high school diploma, vocational training in eight skill areas, basic computer skills, basic employment skills, health and wellness education, and training in cultural diversity, are available. High school diplomas are also available on campus through a high school. Numerous partnerships with community organizations and agencies provide opportunities for cultural, recreation, and community service activities.

Between 25% and 30% of the youth enrolled at the Center are youth with identified disabilities. While the largest percentage of disabilities represented is learning, mental health, and emotional disabilities, youth with physical and sensory disabilities are also served at the Center. This Center emphasizes early identification of disabilities and the development of a comprehensive accommodation plan that meets each youth's needs. The process begins with Admissions where youth are encouraged to disclose their disability and provide any documentation that they may have. During the first 48 hours after enrollment, all youth receive a comprehensive assessment conducted by a Center counselor and the wellness coordinator. Multiple training sessions have been held for staff at all levels on subjects related to disabilities. Outside agencies are often invited to the Center to conduct staff training. The Center has a strong partnership with vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors, who provide support in a number of ways to youth while at the Center and after they leave.

Program Structure/Design: 
The Acosta Center offers training in eight occupational skill areas. In addition, students are offered basic education courses leading to a high school diploma or a GED. Students may also take college-level classes at Pima Community College. Pell Grants are available for part-time and full-time college classes to students that meet the criteria. During the first 60 days following enrollment, each student completes a career preparation program that includes leadership training. Through this program, each student develops a career plan. Students complete their training at their own pace. The time at the Center can range from as short as six months to as long as two years. Students participate in work-based learning internships with area employers to get real-world experience in their area of vocational study. Cultural activities, community service, and recreational activities, both on campus and in the community, keep students engaged in their studies and help them develop their citizenship skills. Ongoing student evaluations and staff oversight assure that progress is being made.
States of Operation: 
AZ
Youth Targeted: 
  • Out of school youth
  • Runaway and homeless youth
  • Youth with disabilities
  • Pregnant or parenting youth
  • Youth offenders
  • Youth in foster care or aging out
  • Rural youth
  • Urban youth
  • Minority youth
ODEP Funded: 
No
Profile Year: 
2007
Innovative Practices
School-Based Preparatory Experiences: 
The on-site Charter high school receives funding from the state. It is designed for youth who, based on their TABE scores, can earn a high school diploma while enrolled in Job Corps. About 70% of enrollees attend the Charter high school. Students receive individualized instruction in small classes, and instruction is competency-based. To receive a high school diploma, students must complete both their academic and vocational courses of study. Instruction is computer-assisted, with an emphasis on learning practical work-based computer applications. A special education teacher works at the Charter school to meet the needs of youth with disabilities. Students maintain a portfolio of all their work.
Youth Development and Leadership: 

Community involvement and community service are emphasized throughout each youth's stay at the Center. During the first 60 days, youth complete a career preparation program that includes a leadership-training course. Through this course, youth learn about the importance of giving back to the community. The Center has an organized program and a single point of contact for community service. For example, Center youth participate in National Youth Service Day, work with the elderly, participate in charity walks, do work for the community food bank, and have adopted a park for clean up.

The Center also has an active student government. Elections are held every six months and students are encouraged to become part of the student government. Students on the executive board participate in an annual Leadership Conference held every year in July in Washington, DC, which includes youth from a number of Centers. The League of Women Voters has assisted the student government with on-site voter registration and with training in using Robert's Rules of Order.

Connecting Activities: 
Upon arrival at the Center, each youth is assigned to a counselor. The counselor is responsible for completion of a comprehensive vocational, academic, and personal assessment. Key staff members throughout the Center are involved in conducting the assessment. The Center has in place a number of accommodations and supports to ensure that all its youth succeed. An accommodation plan is developed for each youth with disabilities. This plan covers all aspects of Center life: environment, lesson presentation, assignments and worksheets, test-taking, learning aids, organization, behavior, medication considerations, and residential living. The plan is signed by the youth, the Center disability coordinator, and the youth's parent or guardian. Tutoring is available to youth through a partnership with a community-based organization called Women in Community services. ESL and beginning reading instruction is also provided by tutors, many of whom have been with the Center for a number of years. The Center also works closely with the Southern Arizona Association for Visually Impaired. A Center employee is assigned to work with employers to provide job accommodations for students who need them to participate successfully in work-based learning. A community partner, Direct, teaches independent living skills to those youth who need them.
Organizational Practices/Administration
Management: 
The Acosta Center uses a team approach to all aspects of its work. Collaboration among staff is a high priority and a hallmark of the Center. The management philosophy that is instilled in all staff is that every person is responsible for every aspect of every student's daily life. All parts are connected to the whole and everyone makes a difference. This team approach and philosophy of responsibility begins with the assessment and service planning for youth and continues throughout the young person's stay at the Center. For example, a team representing all the departments meets daily to review all of the data that the Center produces. The team receives a list of potential leavers. This list is reviewed to determine what additional assistance might be provided to the student to assist in successful transition from Job Corps. Also, the team develops strategies for assisting the students with job placement and other supports after they leave the Center.
Evidence of Success (Information and Analysis)
Data: 

The following chart contains information from program year 2003.

Program Year 2003
( July 1, 2003 – June 30, 2004)
Education
Attained high school diploma or GED 56.7%
Earned a vocational completion certificate 69.0%
Employment – placement
Placement in job, school, or military 88.9%
Average starting hourly wage $7.73
Employment – retention
Six-month retention 65.1%
Average weekly wage after six months $340.00
Twelve-month retention 69.4%
Average weekly wage after twelve months $335.00

Third-Party Documentation: 
A 2001 national study of the Job Corps by Mathematica Corporation documented the effectiveness of Job Corps programs in increasing education and job training of participants, improving literacy skills and in employment outcomes. This study found that services were delivered consistently and comprehensively across the country.

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