Since Emily Shaffer turned 16 years old, she has worked two jobs and back-to-back 12-hour shifts to make ends meet. Up until recently, she thought that her future would be much of the same.
That was until she was connected with Second Chance Mississippi, which is a Mississippi-based nonprofit that helps adults looking to continue their education or workforce training overcome any obstacles that could be preventing them from doing so.
“(Our) mission is to raise funds and awareness for adult education and workforce training, basically to remove the barriers that keep the under-educated and under-skilled adults in Mississippi from learning the skills and completing the education they need to get a good job,” said Zach Scruggs, executive director of Second Chance Mississippi.
The community has rallied around the organization’s mission, and now there is a fund set up through the Bacot McCarty Foundation to raise money for their efforts.
The Second Chance Mississippi fund will help others like Shaffer to continue their education.
“I started off with no faith in myself and I didn’t think I was even going to make it through school,” she said. “I didn’t even want to get my GED.”
“I was so worried about not being able to afford the testing or the computer needed and everything I would need to get there,” she added. “They’ve helped me tremendously.”
Shaffer has now completed her assessments and is on her way to getting her GED by December.
“This GED could be a step forward for me to do anything,” she said. “To make more money, to be able to raise my little brothers, to do what I wanted to do in life.”
“There’s not a lot of people that’s willing to help like they’re willing to help,” Shaffer said.
The fund is a collaborative effort between businesses, like Chevron and local small businesses, who have an interest in aiding the community and the Bacot McCarty Foundation, according to executive director of the foundation Todd Trenchard.
“This is a fund that they can not only give to, but can volunteer with,” Trenchard said. “We will start meeting on a regular basis to look at the issues facing our community prohibiting people from going to the next level, and we will have the funding and connections to address those issues.”
Trenchard said education and working to better yourself gives people a boost of confidence and helps career building.
“We want to find those people, mainly those who need at least a GED,” Trenchard said. “Education has a broader effect on the social fabric of your community than just the piece of paper that you’re earning.”
Thanks to community partners like Chevron who have donated, the fund already has already begun collecting money.
Second Chance Mississippi has helped over 650 people statewide in continuing education by helping with testing fees for workforce training and providing tools for adults to be successful in these programs. For Shaffer, it was a laptop.
“We work collaboratively with area community colleges and other groups, including Pascagoula Adult Learning Center to give the support adult students need,” Scruggs said. “Testing fees for workforce training can be expensive and keep many Mississippians from obtaining them. It’s very important because getting a high school diploma and getting the necessary workforce skills greatly increases the chances of these adults getting jobs.”
“We are removing a barrier that would otherwise derail or prevent one of these adults from completing the program,” Scruggs said.
For more information about the fund, to donate or to find out how to volunteer, visit bacotmccarty.org.