Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- March 14, 2001

CSULB Center for Career Studies, Local Church Receive $410,000 Grant from California Governor's Faith-Based Initiative Program

PA partnership project teaming the Center for Career Studies at Cal State Long Beach with the Church of Elohim Ministries in Long Beach has been awarded a $410,000 grant through an innovative, first-time Faith-Based Initiative established by California Governor Gray Davis.

The grant was one of 20 awards totaling $5 million recently given to faith-based organizations throughout California. The funded projects or programs focus on providing job training and other services to individuals not traditionally served by the current system of workforce development.

In all, more than 230 of the state's churches and spiritual organizations submitted proposals to participate in the Faith-Based Initiative, and the CSULB-Elohim Ministries project received the second highest of the 20 grants awarded.

"The project that this grant supports is an excellent example of how our university contributes to and helps improve the local community and the lives of its residents," said Robert C. Maxson, president of Cal State Long Beach. "Partnering with a local church gives us an opportunity to reach out to people who might not otherwise come into contact with the campus."

Called Project FAITH (Forging Ahead in Technology and Health), the CSULB-Elohim program will provide vocational training to 70 economically disadvantaged and/or limited English proficient individuals in Long Beach. The training will prepare participants for one of two job opportunities-certified nursing assistant or Microsoft Office User Specialist.

"Project FAITH addresses several significant needs in the Long Beach community," noted Paul Bott, director of the CSULB Center for Career Services. "It addresses the need for employment training services for the hardest-to-serve individual; it addresses the overall shortage of workers in the information technology (computer) and health care industries; and it addresses the employment services needs of the limited English speaking worker."

In addition to the job training, the project will incorporate basic literacy and Vocational English as a Second Language instruction into the curriculum over the 18-month project period.
"So, there is basic reading, writing and arithmatic that goes with these programs, and it is all done in the context of the occupation being taught," Bott explained. "Within the nursing assistant's program, for example, students learn the math that goes along with measuring and measuring skills. The English language they are getting is that used in a medical situation. This is also true of the Microsoft Office program."

The Church of Elohim Ministries, located on the west side of Long Beach, has a congregation of about 120 families. Bott said virtually all of its members are immigrants, mostly from the Philippines and some from Mexico.

Church members have first priority in all of the offerings of Project FAITH, but enrollment is not restricted to church membership. In fact, none of the organizations receiving Faith-Based Initiative grants can require membership, conversion or any other similar stipulation as a condition of receiving the training.

"We've already filled a class for the nursing assistant program and a class for the computer training program," Bott pointed out. "The bulk of the participants we've already selected are not members of the church. They are community members who live near the church. The outreach has really been in the community rather than being confined to the church membership."

Of the 70 individuals who will take part in the program, Bott said 30 will be selected for the nursing assistant program and 40 for the Microsoft Office user specialist program.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Project FAITH can call the CSULB Center for Career Studies at 562/9854698 or 562/985-8564 or call the Church of Elohim Ministries at 562/424-6010 or 310/212-5625.


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