School District Approves Dual Enrollment Unity in the Family’s Jobs Training Program


Unity in the Family Ministry’s Pastor, Dr. Calvin Avant, received a strong decision of support from the Escambia County School District as they approved Escambia Charter School students to be dual-enrolled in the Unity in the Family Ministry environmental jobs training program. The training program, operated by Dillard University in New Orleans for 20 years, has been expanded to Pensacola. It is being operated by Unity in the Family at its 615 N. “W” Street, Jolene Avant Center of Excellence, training center location. The program provides training in asbestos, lead, construction, and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER). The program focuses on training for underserved populations.

Unity in the Family hit the streets during the past month recruiting trainees for the program, going to community centers like Fricker, Woodland Heights, and Wedgewood. Dr. Avant, and Derek Stromas, Program Recruiter, also went door-to-door in Pensacola Village, Truman Arms, Morris and Attucks Court. They even joined in on street corner conversations to attract interest from local residents looking for a second chance at a new career. It was the School District that gave the new local program a boost with their dual enrollment decision. Dr. Avant felt it was a perfect match as he stated, “We are partnering with a second chance school for a second chance training program.”

Last week, Dillard University’s Dr. Deborah Merrick, Program Manager for Education and Training for the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, assisted Unity in the Family staff in conducting testing and interviews for approximately sixty (60) persons competing for the thirty (30) slots available for the training program. Women and men were interested in the program and the ages of those persons being tested ranged from the minimum age of 18 years old to 57 years old.

Dr. Avant expressed how motivated and excited many of the applicants were about the training and eventual job opportunities. He stated many felt this could be there break that could turn their lives around. According to the interviewers, many wanted to bring additional income into their families, provide for their children, in addition to becoming involved in a career that could have them progressing in life and keep them out of trouble.

In addition to training and outreach, Dillard’s DSCEJ programming also includes a research focus, which is spearheaded by the Center’s project director and principal investigator, Dr. Beverly Wright. Dr. Wright just returned from the Paris, France Environmental Change Summit. Under her leadership, the Center has provided support for the Wedgewood Community’s fight against the high number of landfills in their area and the health impacts of the facilities.

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