Section 2: Our Client

Grace Centers of Hope

Grace Centers of Hope is a faith-based outreach to homeless and disadvantaged individuals and families located in Pontiac, MI. They offer a full recovery and rehabilitation campus for homeless men, women, and children who been abused, or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Grace Centers of Hope is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is classified by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a public charity with $5.4 million in total revenue and support for the year ended 2012. Their programs focus on total rehabilitation by meeting all of their clients’ needs, including food, clothing, shelter, educational courses, daycare, job training, assistance in preparing resumes, substance abuse programs, medical care, and housing placement.

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that assesses the financial health, accountability and transparency of charities, deemed that Grace Centers of Hope exceeds industry standards and outperforms most similar charities, and recognized their exceptional status with their highest 4-star rating. In addition, Grace Centers of Hope was acknowledged by Crain’s Detroit Business as the 2012 Best-Managed Nonprofit.

Adult Basic Education Program

Program Overview

Adult clients recovering from drug, alcohol, or other challenging issues who are without a high school diploma or equivalent are required to take Grace Centers of Hope’s in-house adult basic education classes as a condition of staying in the recovery program. Given the residency aspect of Grace Centers of Hope’s recovery program, the adult basic education courses are held at their Pontiac, MI location. The staff believes that completion of the education program provides their clients increased likelihood of passing the General Educational Development (GED) high school equivalency test, as well as obtaining a job or being accepted into college.

The number of Grace Centers of Hope clients participating in the education program fluctuates depending on who enters the one-year residency recovery program. Currently, over 15 learners are actively participating in the education program. However, the organization is growing, which means the numbers of learners is predicted to increase. In 2013, Grace Centers of Hope’s education program helped 18 clients successfully pass their high school equivalency exams.

Our Contacts

Kim Phillip, Director of Education and Career Development, administers Grace Centers of Hope’s education program. Courtney Phillips, an Education Specialist, supports Kim. Bonnie Shellnut is an instructional designer and curriculum consultant who volunteers with Grace Centers of Hope, and is a key subject-matter expert on the project.

Kim, Courtney, and Bonnie are wonderful partners in this service-learning process. It is important for us (the volunteers) recognize and respect the time commitment of Kim, Courtney, and Bonnie within this service-learning process. To that end, the facilitators ask that students refrain from directly calling or emailing Kim, Courtney, or Bonnie. The main reason being … there are nearly 20 of us! In addition, the facilitators have spent a lot of time this past year working with Kim, Courtney, and Bonnie, and there is a good chance that one of the facilitators can help to answer your question. Therefore, if you have questions for our client, we ask that you take advantage of the following options:

  1. Post your questions to Kim and Courtney within the Discussion Forum under the Q&A Grace Centers of Hope forum,
  2. Post your questions to the project facilitators within the Discussion Forum under the Q&A Facilitators forum, or
  3. Ask your question to Kim or Courtney during one of the live webcasts.

Instructional Approach

The adult basic education courses at Grace Centers of Hope aim to improve the learner’s language arts, science, social studies, and math skills and knowledge for career and college readiness, as well as preparation for the GED test. Upon entering the education program, learners take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE test) to determine their levels in math, reading, vocabulary, language, and mathematics. The results of the tests are used to develop individual learning plans.

Tutors who work as instructors in the adult basic education courses are both Grace Centers of Hope staff and volunteers. The education courses are facilitated by the tutors in a combination of individual and small-group instruction. Some describe the instructional approach and setting as a “one room schoolhouse” with the tutors tailoring the instruction to the needs of each student.

However, some tutors involved in the education program have limited experience with this at-risk client population. In addition, the volunteer tutors enter or leave at varying points within the year, which can hamper the continuity of instruction.

Your To-Do List

1) Please review the following documents and websites for information about our client:

2) Share Your Perspective: From a review of the service-learner applications, many in our group have experience volunteering or working in an adult basic education program. Others have experience with the subject matter, but in a K12 setting. Please share your perspective in the Discussion Forum under the “Adult Basic Education” forum. If you have worked as an instructional designer or educator in an adult basic education, please describe your experience and the instructional approach. Also, if you have experience in a K12 setting, what parallels and differences do you see to this adult learner population that is studying essentially the same materials, but in a different context?