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Reimagining education & career training at Avivo through EMPath Approach

Avivo has launched a two-year, career training pilot program using the EMPath model  — a brain-science based approach that designs a roadmap to help low-income people reach economic independence. Focused on long-term goals, EMPath guides each person in health, family life, career, finances, and education.

Last year Avivo helped 4,358 individuals find work or enter careers, and 265 participants to achieve recognized credentials in high-demand industries. Eight out of 10 Avivo participants retained their jobs after six months. According to Jim Verhoye, director of Avivo’s Institute of Career & Technical Education, Empath’s approach will take Avivo participants to an essential level of economic mobility.

Jackie Travis, Avivo’s Mobility Mentor, hands Deja her certificate of completion. Deja graduated in September from Avivo’s Business Computer Applications Specialist training program.

“We want to make sure our participants are firmly established on paths toward family-sustaining wages and well-being,” shares Jim.

This approach to self-sufficiency aligns with Avivo’s wellness philosophy. The Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® model addresses five essential areas of a person’s life, understanding that stress or difficulties in one area can bring down progress in the others. Working this comprehensive approach with Mobility Mentoring® helps individuals make real progress out of poverty and achieve upward economic mobility.

“I’ve really gotten a lot out of this,” said one participant at graduation. “I can engage in job search activities. I can bypass my anxiety and fear and apply and interview. My goal is to continue to shift my mindset and career narrative.”

Jim has been involved in education for more than 20 years and is excited about the new ideas Avivo is implementing. “The approach uses current scientific research on brain chemistry with regard to poverty and trauma and considers their affect on learning.”

Avivo will enroll 30 individuals into the program over the next two years. The pilot program is supported by a grant from the Thrivent Financial Foundation. Avivo Mobility Mentor Jackie Travis serves as career navigator and coach.

Jackie Travis, Avivo's Mobility Mentor, hands Dan his certificate of perfect attendance at his graduation ceremony.
Jackie Travis, Avivo’s Mobility Mentor, hands Dan his certificate of perfect attendance at his graduation ceremony.

“My job is to help people identify where they are and where they want to go,” says Jackie. “Lots of people don’t have support. I help them find resources and make goals that are attainable.”

The first cohort of participants graduated from training at Avivo in early August. Jackie notes that many participants have faced some form of significant trauma in their lives.

“I’m in it with both feet. This is the beginning,” shares one graduate. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have this place to come to and for such supportive people.”

“Many tears were shed in my first meetings with this group,” shares Jackie. “We’re touching on things that are uncomfortable. They’re not just going to class. They’re focusing on the things – emotional and physical abuse, anxiety — that are blocking them from moving forward.”

“I’ve really gotten a lot out of this,” said one participant at graduation. “I can engage in job search activities. I can bypass my anxiety and fear and apply and interview. My goal is to continue to shift my mindset and career narrative.”

“I’m in it with both feet. This is the beginning,” shares another graduate. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have this place to come to and for such supportive people.”

Avivo’s EMPath program is a two-year, pilot  program supported by a grant from the Thrivent Financial Foundation. This will be a multi-part story – stay connected to Avivo for more updates.

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