On October 8, 2011 more than 100 students graduated from Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation (CHCTDC). Ward 8 Council Member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mary Cuthbert and keynote speaker Council Member At-Large, Vincent Orange, greeted the students. This non-profit, located in the heart of the Ward 8 Congress Heights community has been in operation for over 24 years and offers a wide variety of free classes, geared at putting D.C. residents to work.
CHCTDC offers free classes to D.C. residents who want to gain professional certification in Barbering, Cosmetology, Customer Service, Child Development Assistance (CDA) and Construction. They also offer literacy classes at Hope Village, Fairview and local halfway houses.
Graduation was held at the Old Congress Heights School off of MLK Ave. SE. 17 barbering students, 42 CDA students, 59 construction students, 14 customer service students and 15 cosmetology students graduated during this last quarter. This graduation concluded the program year where over 640 people have been placed in jobs during the program’s academic year, a placement rate of over 84% of the graduates.
CHCTDC produces so many graduates on a yearly basis through the help of funding from the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC). Executive Director Monica Ray said she is happy with the success rate of her company. She said, “We need employers who have job openings to come to us and take advantage our qualified, screened, trained and nationally certified D.C. residents a source for new hires.
Ms. Ray said that the program not only focuses on putting residents to work, but she stresses life skills training as a key component of the program. Each class has a specific number of clock hours that a student must complete before s/he can sit for the certification of the course. Courses combine theoretical knowledge with the practical experience needed to work in the area of expertise. Students gain on-the-job training in their field(s) of study through mandatory internships. CHCTDC also offers placement assistance throughout the course so students are ready to enter jobs upon their graduation of the course(s).
Carolyn Williams recently graduated from the Customer Service course after being out of work for some time. She said, “The course was good. I learned a lot of things about customer service that I never thought about.” Ms. Williams is just one of many students CHCTDC turns out. She has had two interviews to date of this article and is hopeful she will find permanent placement in the following weeks.
Raynard Williams, a graduate of the construction course is glad he went through the program. “I am now working on a construction site and I was recently promoted, so I’m thankful for programs like this.” Mr. Williams’ teacher Oscar Jackson said he is “a prime example” of how the course puts people directly to work. “Raynard came into the class focused, learned the work and was able to start on a construction site before the class officially ended.” Students who excel on an accelerated level like Williams are able to begin work before the class ends and make up the coursework in their off time, but they are still required to take and pass the test in order to graduate.
Tyisha Green, a graduate of the cosmetology and customer service courses said, “I got two certifications and that’s cool with me! I’m certified and qualified in two specific areas.” Students like Ms. Green can receive dual certificates if their courses overlap and their teachers are informed.
Ms. Ray said that while she is proud of her placement rate, this year it is down 3% from last year, mainly due to the recession and an overall reduction of jobs availability. She encourages as many business owners and corporations to look to her non-profit for their company’s needs.
To find out more about Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation please visit www.chctdc.org or call (202) 563-5200.