Today, Mallory Balch is more than a graduate. She is an advocate.
As a participant, and now employee, of the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) adult learning program, Balch knows firsthand the importance of prioritizing education.
“Growing up, I wasn’t good at school,” Balch said. “I was told I was stupid and couldn’t do it. Being successful in CWI’s adult education program helped me see that I could do it.”
Many high-quality, long-term jobs in Northwest Indiana (NWI) require a degree and education beyond high school. CWI provides a range of programs and services to help participants obtain and maintain those careers.
Understanding first-hand how impactful fulfilling work can be as an employee of CWI, Balch advocates for others to participate in the group’s learning programs.
“What CWI does to help is amazing,” Balch said. “Beyond even earning a degree, they helped me get ready for work. The support and encouragement you feel is amazing.”
During her time in the program, Balch received training, earned money for completing sections of the program, and was connected with potential work opportunities. All of these services were provided to her at no cost.
Work of this kind is typical for CWI.
CWI’s mission is to promote and support employment opportunities in our area. A unique, key way of doing this is through adult education. By providing local residents with free classes and resources, CWI ensures they can earn their high school equivalency and prepare for the workforce.
“When I thought about starting to earn my degree, I was incarcerated,” Balch said. “In jail, I thought, ‘I don’t want to come back here. What can I do to change my position?’ I remembered my school counselor saying that it always starts with school.”
Today, Balch and CWI work with students in both Valparaiso and Chesterton to change their current situations.
As an employee of CWI, Balch fully grasps the impact of this work first-hand and makes learning personal. Balch begins each course by sharing part of her story to help everyone feel comfortable right away.
“A lot of our students have had a trauma or something that has held them back from going to traditional school,” Balch said. “I share a little bit of my story so they feel comfortable and are able to open up.”
Understanding that learners come with many different needs, CWI provides learning for high school equivalency, English language learners, and preparation for college courses. CWI even partners with Work One, Job Works, and Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) Indiana to give even more opportunities.
“To sign up for our course, you just need to find the closest center,” Balch said.
Interested students can call or text 219-266-6236 and schedule an appointment.
“Our program is completely free,” Balch said. “We just want to help people reach goals they didn’t even think were possible.”
Today, Balch credits CWI’s training program as the reason her life has turned around.
“I went from incarceration to being homeless while fighting for custody of my children to steady work,” Balch said. “CWI’s program put me on a path of being able to obtain employment that has helped all aspects of my life.”
Changing the community through workplace opportunities, CWI’s adult learning program certainly worked for Balch.
“Today I own a two-bedroom house, a car, and have custody of my kids,” Balch said. “Today I have something to call my own that is more than work.”
To learn more about CWI and its adult learning program, please visit cwicorp.com.