Penta Career Center & Cherry St. Mission: Integrated Change Agents

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In a county where more than 60,000 residents over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, there can be competition for educational attainment or there can be collaboration. 

The Penta Career Center (Penta) and Cherry Street Mission Ministries (Cherry St. Mission) - serving Toledo and surrounding Lucas County - have chosen collaboration, through a partnership to tackle the issues facing the undereducated, the under- and unemployed, and the people simply seeking more training. The two entities have set out to, in the words of Penta Adult Education Supervisor Rhonda Hogrefe, “transform Toledo’s tomorrow.” The Toledo Public Schools joined the effort last summer, and together all three are working to incorporate a full circle of services and community outreach, with the goal of less competition and fewer  gaps in service for students. 

Cherry St. Mission recently purchased the old Macomber High School building, which closed in 1991, to create what staff members are calling the Life Revitalization Center. This site will serve as the main location for the Cherry St. Mission, and is already hosting an Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) and GED program through the partnership with Penta. Future plans could include expansion to comprise comprehensive adult career training programs and, potentially, a Toledo Public Schools vocational training option in downtown. Adult programs offered would also focus on helping Cherry St. Mission residents and clients find work or additional educational opportunities.

The Life Revitalization Center had opened as of December, and Penta officially began classes in two rooms at the new Macomber site. In further collaboration, the classrooms were furnished through a donation of unused classroom furniture from the University of Toledo. The Life Revitalization Center also features access to public transportation on three of the four corners, providing a more convenient location for many Toledo residents.

The revitalization of downtown Toledo is something taken seriously by residents and businesses alike. This partnership not only brings three competing education entities together, but also serves to connect adult students to local businesses that need particular skill sets. 

“Collectively, we can offer not an option, but a solution to their problems, and create a personal action plan for student success,” 
Hogrefe said.

The partnership between Penta and Cherry St. Mission seeks to provide better access to educational resources and opportunities for those seeking to complete a GED, or acquire additional education or training. This collaboration could be just the start of a new beginning for downtown Toledo.