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North Charleston education and employment program trying to keep doors open

March 29, 2017 GMT

A program aimed at helping North Charleston residents get back to school and land jobs is set to close as the funding runs out.

The Education to Employment program, which had federal funding through the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, will close in June unless money is found to keep the doors open at two centers. But that’s unlikely.

“E2E,” as it’s called, is the kind of program officials have pointed to as a way to strengthen the community and possibly reduce crime.

After a large crime sweep last month in North Charleston, several community leaders said helping people find jobs was essential to keeping the situation from slipping back to the way it was.

The program wasn’t cheap.

But since it began with a $2 million grant in 2015, it has helped residents between 16 and 29 years old get the training they need to land jobs.

Lionel Singleton, who now is 30, said he earned his GED with the help of a program counselor. His weak areas were science and math, he said. “I worked day in and day out with my counselor on that,” he said.

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Singleton also received job training and other supportive services now has a job in the maintenance field, which he enjoys.

The program has served more than 200 people since it began. About 150 of them have found jobs, and more than 20 have earned a high school diploma or GED.

“It definitely filled a need, said Ryan Johnson, spokesman for the city of North Charleston. “It would be great if we could find funding to replace it,” he said. “But I don’t see it.”

Stephanie McCallister, the program’s lead career coordinator, said it covered the cost of most things people needed, including: childcare, books, transportation and application fees.

Program leaders now are looking for places students who haven’t yet achieved their career goals can go after it closes, she said.

The program has received attention for its success. It won the 2016 National Association of Development Associations’ Innovation Award for an outstanding, creative approach to bettering North Charleston. It also was named the South Carolina Regional Council’s 2016 Project of the Year for assisting participants even if they have an offense on their record while reimbursing much of the training costs to participating employers.