Top 4 Ways Goodwill Is Promoting Better Education Nationwide

Thanks to its various social services programs, the reach of Goodwill Industries extends far beyond its thrift stores. The organization uses the money it generates from sales of donated items to help people improve their lives and become valuable members of their communities.

With much of its focus on ensuring that individuals are positioned for future success, Goodwill has had education as one of its programming priorities since it first launched well over a century ago. Today, the nonprofit group remains focused on providing valuable learning opportunities for people of all ages.

Here are some of the top ways that Goodwill promotes education in the hundreds of communities it serves throughout the United States:

 

  1. Providing Free Learning Opportunities

One of Goodwill’s most accessible learning programs is offered at GCFLearnFree.org, a free educational website launched by the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern NC Inc. On the site, visitors can access a library of more than 2,000 lessons covering over 180 topics in areas such as technology, literacy, and math. To enhance each lesson, the site also features over 800 educational videos and 55 interactive games and activities.

Some of the academic topics covered at GCFLearnFree include basic addition and subtraction, English grammar, algebra, and reading. Much of the site, however, is focused on helping people build 21st-century skills. The subjects taught in this area range from computer basics and email to digital photography, cloud computing, and graphic design. In addition, GCFLearnFree includes a number of tutorials on Microsoft Office programs.

Along with the tech tutorials and lessons in reading and math, the site provides resources for career support and everyday living. The tutorials and interactive lessons in these areas focus on career planning, job search, and money management. Lessons on work skills, food and cooking, and health and safety are also available.

 

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  1. Educating Adults Who Are Pursuing Their High School Diplomas

While recent statistics show a reduction in high school dropout rates nationwide, approximately 30 million American adults are still without diplomas, and another 3 million people drop out each year. Goodwill organizations throughout the country are doing their part to help these individuals finish their high school education by providing various programs and resources in local communities.

Many Goodwill locations oversee adult learning centers or provide no-cost adult education classes that prepare adult learners for the GED exam. In Indiana, which has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, Goodwill Industries, Inc., launched The Excel Center, a tuition-free public high school for adults. With drop-in childcare, supportive staff, and flexible scheduling that includes both day and night classes, The Excel Center is designed specifically for adults working to earn their diplomas while keeping up with work and family responsibilities.

The success of the original Center site in Indianapolis led Goodwill to open additional locations in Indiana along with other sites in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. In the Indiana location’s first decade, more than 3,000 adults earned their high school diplomas through The Goodwill Excel Center. Nearly all (97 percent) of the Center’s graduates also went on to earn college credits or job-related certifications.

 

  1. 3. Ensuring Young People Have the Knowledge and Skills to Succeed

In addition to assisting adult learners, Goodwill organizations nationwide work with various community partners to promote youth education. Examples include Goodwill Industries of Denver, which works with several area schools to educate and prepare at-risk students for their future careers. The organization’s youth programs provide education and training in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Goodwill of Denver also provides mentoring to help students prepare for and succeed in college.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan (SEMI) is another organization that is dedicated to helping local youth. Over the years, SEMI has partnered with businesses and other nonprofits to support community literacy projects. In 2017, the organization distributed more than 7.5 tons of children’s books throughout the community. SEMI also helps lead the Read to Feed program, which provides books for area schools that collect food for local food pantries.

 

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  1. Leading the Way in Career-Related Education

As part of its efforts to help people overcome barriers to employment, Goodwill Industries directs a large percentage of its resources toward career-related education. At the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy in Austin, Texas, individuals can pursue career certifications in numerous industries, including health care, technology, and business. The Academy also offers accelerated certification programs in skilled construction trades.

Alongside local work-related programs, Goodwill oversees several national initiatives to educate American workers. Many of Goodwill’s activities in recent years have focused on equipping people with the digital skills needed in the modern workforce.

In 2017, the organization launched the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, a Google-funded initiative that will ultimately help over 1 million people learn computer support, programming, and other tech-related skills. Goodwill is also partnering with Google and Coursera to help prepare people age 17 and older for careers in IT support.

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This Is How the American Heart Association Is Keeping Youth Healthy

AmericanHeartAssociationThe American Heart Association (AHA) is committed to helping people stay healthy throughout their lives. As part of this commitment, the organization oversees a range of programs and activities focused on research, education, and advocacy. Along with more than 3,000 employees at 156 local offices, AHA leverages the work of over 22.5 million volunteers and supporters to ensure that people of all ages have access to quality health care services and public health education.

In recent years, the association’s work has heavily emphasized children’s health, as obesity rates and preventable health conditions among young people have started to increase. In order to reverse these negative trends, the AHA is targeting youth health through various initiatives implemented in schools and communities. Read on to learn more about how the American Heart Association is working with community partners to help youth to become and stay healthy.

Providing Educational Programs and Resources

For educators, the AHA provides a variety of resources to support health education in the gym and classroom. Elementary and middle school teachers can visit the association’s website to find lesson plans and teaching guides. The resources integrate lessons about heart health, fitness, and nutrition into the math, science, language arts, and social science curriculum. The AHA also offers ideas for educational games and activities that get students moving while teaching them about the cardiovascular system.

Putting the Fun in Healthy Fund-Raising

One of the American Heart Association’s most well-known school programs is Jump Rope For Heart, which is sponsored by the AHA and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). Each year, Jump Rope For Heart events are held in schools across the country. In addition to promoting heart awareness and providing heart-healthy education, the jump rope events help to raise funds to support the AHA’s life-saving research. Today, teachers, coaches, and other school officials can also conduct a Hoops For Heart event, an AHA fundraiser that engages students in basketball activities.

Challenging Youth to Become More Active

Along with its Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops For Heart events, the AHA encourages young people to be more physically active through the NFL Play 60 Challenge. Initially launched in 2006, the challenge is a joint effort between the AHA and the NFL that seeks to reduce the rate of childhood obesity by inspiring children and teens to exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes each day.

In order to encourage teachers and schools to become involved in implementing the program, the AHA and NFL offer online training videos and educational resources that include over four dozen subject-based lesson plans and more than 100 ideas for physical activity breaks and homework assignments. Teachers can also register for the Play 60 Challenge Tracker, which provides an easy way to monitor students’ physical activity. The tracker also offers schools the ability to compare their activity with others taking part in the four-week challenge.

Teaching CPR in Schools

Over the course of more than 90 years, the AHA has been a leading source of emergency cardiovascular care training and education. People across the country now rely on the organization’s programming to learn how to respond to health emergencies using lifesaving CPR techniques. The AHA also delivers training in schools as part of its goal of having all of the nation’s teachers and students trained in CPR.

Through the AHA’s upgraded CPR in Schools Training Kit, up to 20 people at a time can learn CPR skills in a single class period. The kits are also reusable, so hundreds of people can receive training with a single kit. Anyone can order a CPR in Schools Training Kit on the AHA website to help students learn how to respond to an emergency at school or at home.

Giving Kids a Healthy Way to Grow

Outside of school, the AHA works with other organizations, including early childhood centers and programs, which serve approximately 60 percent of American children 5 years old and younger. In partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, the association advances Healthy Way to Grow, a program that helps early childhood providers to create and implement wellness policies that aim to reverse childhood obesity.

The wellness policies tackle the obesity epidemic by providing child care providers with a guide for improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time. Healthy Way to Grow also helps providers reach out to families to encourage healthy habits at home. Since the AHA and Nemours launched the program, the network of participating organizations has grown to include 345 early childhood centers serving more than 37,000 children in several US states.

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Empowering Advocates of Childhood Health

For the last three decades, the AHA has been bringing people together through You’re the Cure, a grassroots advocacy campaign that focuses on building healthier communities. You’re the Cure advocates for legislative and regulatory policies in a variety of areas, including childhood health. Recently, the campaign has been advancing key issues related to diet and nutrition.

AHA advocates are calling for states to pass a tax on soda, energy drinks, and other sweetened beverages, which are a major source of the added sugar in young people’s diets. You’re the Cure is also focused on promoting and protecting the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a 2010 law that gives students access to healthy school meals.

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The Latest Research Highlights at the American Heart Association

americanheartassociationIn its efforts to save lives by improving cardiovascular-related care, the American Heart Association (AHA) aims to advance medical research in cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The organization also supports research to develop prevention strategies and establish guidelines to help heart patients and other individuals improve and maintain their heart and brain health.

Since its founding more than nine decades ago, the AHA has invested over $4.1 billion in research that has led to a number of medical breakthroughs. Previous research funded by the organization has spurred the development of lifesaving drugs and treatments that are still in widespread use. The following provides an overview of how some of the organization’s recent activities are making an impact.

 

Advancing Understanding and Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

Alongside the Children’s Heart Foundation, the AHA is supporting research to better understand and treat congenital heart defects (CHD), the leading cause of birth-defect-related deaths among infants born in the United States. The Children’s Heart Foundation and the AHA joined forces as part of their Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program, established in 2014.

The AHA and the Children’s Heart Foundation have announced the recipients of the fourth round of funding offered through the CHD Research Awards. The seven research programs selected for the round of funding will receive a total of $826,600. To date, CHD Research Awards have provided more than $3.2 million to researchers in the United States, and funding for the program will continue through June 2021. Ultimately, the seven-year initiative will provide $22.5 million to advance CHD-related research.

 

Identifying Risk Factors for Heart Disease

heartEstablishing and promoting prevention strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes to reduce the effect of heart disease is a major part of the AHA’s work. To help identify factors that play a role in heart-related health issues, the organization supports research focused on heart disease risk. The AHA and other groups have long associated unhealthy weight with heart attacks, but recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that waist and hip size may have a stronger association with heart attack risk than overall obesity.

Researchers in the study, which examined 500,000 adults in the UK, found that fat distribution around the abdomen is hazardous in both sexes, but it appears to have a more profound effect on women. The AHA notes that the distribution of fat and the differences in body types between men and women may play a role in heart attack risk later in life. The organization also suggests that future studies examining sex-specific interventions for obesity could help reduce the rates of heart disease.

 

Promoting the Use of Automated External Defibrillators

An automated external defibrillator (AED) delivers an electrical shock to restart the heart of a person in cardiac arrest. Recent research published in the AHA journal Circulation highlights the importance of AEDs in saving lives as well as the need for increased distribution and awareness of the devices.

According to the cardiac arrest chain of survival protocol established by the AHA, when attempting to save the life of someone whose heart has stopped beating, bystanders should employ an AED, after calling 911 and initiating CPR. The AHA is working to promote the use of AEDs through research and campaigns such as its Workplace Safety Training Initiative, launched in 2017. Leaders at the AHA are using the campaign and related activities to urge those in charge of businesses and other public buildings to place AEDs next to fire extinguishers so that bystanders can easily find them in an emergency.

 

Establishing New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

blood pressureBased on the review of more than 900 published studies, scientists and health experts with the AHA, American College of Cardiology (ACC), and nine other health organizations published new high blood pressure guidelines for the first time in 14 years. The new guidelines, which the AHA and ACC released in late 2017, call for interventions at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90. Under the new changes, the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure will increase by 14 percent. The increase will be most prevalent among people under the age of 45.

Although the changes to the guidelines will lead to more hypertension diagnoses, the number of those requiring antihypertensive medication will not increase significantly. The new guidelines recommend that physicians address Stage 1 hypertension with lifestyle changes and prescribe medications only those at high risk of a cardiovascular event due to other factors.

High blood pressure damages the vascular system and plays a significant role in increasing heart attack and stroke risk. In lowering its definition, the AHA is promoting earlier treatment that could save lives by preventing blood-pressure-related health complications.