Blog Posts

Crisis Breeds Creativity

May 13, 2020

Over the past two months, we have adapted in every imaginable way to continue to meet community needs under ever-increasing constraints due to COVID-19.  Crisis breeds creativity and provides the opportunity of seeing the way we deliver services through a different lens. 

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Activities For Toddlers to Teens 2

April 11, 2020

We are back with another week of fun activities to keep kids engaged from toddlers to teens. Check out the ideas and activities our Early Education and Youth Services staff have put together. 

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Activities For Toddlers to Teens

April 03, 2020

You may be spending a lot more time at home, but that doesn't mean the fun and learning have to stop. Our Early Education and Youth Services teams have put together some great activities to keep young ones from toddlers to teens engaged. 

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10 Smart Ways To Use Your Tax Refund

March 04, 2020

By now, all Americans have received their 2019 W2 forms and related tax information and it’s time to file taxes. According to the IRS, the average tax refund last year was just shy of $3,000.

That’s a lot of money for most households!

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We can Advance Racial Equity in Kentucky By Investing in Pre-apprenticeship

November 13, 2019

Written by Wonda Winkler, Brighton Center Executive Vice President

 One of our core values at Brighton Center is a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial equity. That core value is driven by the fundamental belief that our society will only truly be fair when people of every race and ethnicity have an equal opportunity to succeed as well as equitable access to the tools, resources, and support they need to reach that success.

The unfortunate reality is that far too many Kentuckians are struggling to achieve economic security for themselves and their families, especially people of color. And while our state has made advancing and promoting apprenticeship programs a priority and is seeing some momentum, we must still work to build out and expand these efforts across the Commonwealth, including Northern Kentucky, to best support working families. We must also broaden the apprenticeship pipeline for people of color by investing in pre-apprenticeship programs.

Some efforts within the state include the Kentucky Advanced Technical College High (KTECH) program, the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Tech Ready Youth Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK). KTECH is designed for students in grades 9-12 plus 2 to ensure they have the skills employers need to fill well-paying middle and high demand jobs. One way that will occur is through work-based learning. As one of the states funded for NSFY, Kentucky seeks to transform the delivery of career and technical education by increasing access to dual credit, industry-recognized credentials, demand sector career pathways in-demand sectors, and work-based learning. TRACK provides secondary students with seamless career pathway opportunities into Registered Apprenticeships.

These efforts are definitely a step in the right direction and are exactly the kind of meaningful workforce policy solutions that would help meet our state’s future workforce needs. It is important to ensure that opportunities and outcomes exist for everyone as these initiatives are being built. In particular, increasing economic opportunities for people of color requires developing relationships even before developing skills through job training. Therein lies the value of pre-apprenticeship programs.

Pre-apprenticeship programs also need our collective focus and attention, and are critical to leveling the playing field for workers of color who may not have the professional network to access high-wage industries like construction, manufacturing, transportation, or health care. This is especially important given the income disparities between people of color and White Americans.

For example, a recent report by National Skills Coalition – The Roadmap for Racial Equity – states that Black apprentices still earn the lowest exit wages of all apprentices (about $14 per hour median wage) compared to about $26 per hour for White apprentices.

Not to mention that more than half of Black workers and 60 percent of Latinx workers nationally are paid less than $15 per hour. Or that women of color and foreign-born women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs like personal care aides ($11.11 per hour average wage) and home health aides ($11.16 per hour) compared to high-wage jobs like registered nurses ($33.65 per hour), which tend to skew White.

Effective pre-apprenticeship programs for youth and adults will allow them to explore a variety of work environments, learn the basic technical skills to succeed in a particular industry, and receive the mentorship, coaching, and support services needed to succeed and complete training – such as child care and transportation assistance.

As apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and work-based learning opportunities are initiated, strengthened, or expanded, it is vital to remember the important role and voice that employers must have in this process. Their willingness to be deeply and fully engaged in partnership with education and workforce development practitioners must occur to ensure the best outcome for the current and future workforce, especially pertaining to diversity, inclusion, and equity.  

Lawmakers should require data disaggregated by race on pre-apprenticeship programs and they should use that data to target investments to organizations that have a demonstrated track record of effectiveness in serving people of color.

There’s no doubt that pre-apprenticeship programs aren’t the only solution. But they’re a crucial component to helping address the education, employment, and income disparities that persist in our state and country.

Real Training, Life Changing

July 30, 2019


Real Training, Life Changing is an understatement for what goes into the program design at Brighton Center's Center for Employment Training. As a trainee you are not only provided with an opportunity, you are given tools that enable you to build a foundation and re-design your life. 

 

There is safety and security in these walls, we learn to trust and build confidence, enabling us to unlock hidden talents. As a graduate of this program, I’ve shared in many victories. It's amazing to witness the evolution of a person. Celebrating the success of others gives hope to those who are new to this journey. Often we think we need to make drastic changes to our lives, we are always waiting for the perfect time.

 

In reality, the time is now and the only thing we need to change is the way we view ourselves, the rest will follow. You can go anywhere to learn a trade, but very few places provide a platform that allows you to take your power back from situations that kept you down.

 

CET has been a home for those who didn’t have one and family for many who felt alone. 



I’ve seen people afraid to attempt their GED, find the motivation to combat their fears and be successful. Working with a Success Coach you learn to be your own change agent. Resources aren’t just provided, you are coached on how to navigate, advocate, and utilize the services available. You don’t have to feel like you're asking for a handout, it's because of your dedication and hard work that these services are available. 

 

As a former Success Coach, I know the value of building healthy relationships and learning to speak the emotional language of each person you work with. Barriers are removed, but not because we do it for people. Instead, we guide and empower individuals to do it for themselves. 


As a Skill Instructor, I am grateful there are no entry requirements for training. I have worked with some of the most brilliant minds who might not have made it past an entrance exam. Many have gone on to pursue higher education and credit their confidence and success to the foundation they built at Center for Employment Training. I give all the credit to the individuals who found success within these walls. 


As a trainee, I always thought there was something magical about this program. So many people have beaten the odds against them, stabilized their situation, and have successful careers. 
After 11 years of working here, I realize the magic isn't just in the program; It's in the people; the staff and customers alike. Most people just need a chance, they need someone who is patient and willing to do things differently. To have magic you have to believe, and we believe in our customers. 

 

Jonika graduated from the Medical Assisting program at Center For Employment Training in 2006 and became an employee as a Success Coach a year later. She has since become a Skill Instructor for both the Medical Assisting and Health Administration Technology skill divisions.  


"The many services and kindness I received as a trainee, is what made me want to be a part of the agency. I often would sit back and think how amazing it would be to work here, also knowing what our customers go through having lived it myself. I truly feel sharing my story with them, lets them know that they can be successful in this." 


To enroll or learn more call (859) 491-8303 ext. 2201 or visit http://www.bccet.org/ 
 

College Not For You? We Have a Fast-track, Debt-free Solution to a Career!

July 19, 2019

By: Tom Haggard

For many young people in our community, the summer months are a time of relaxing at the pool, fun family vacations and staying up late and making memories with friends. However, for those young people who just graduated from high school this past spring – the summer months can be filled with deadlines, paperwork, and anxiety. 

After spending years working on college prep courses, applications, essays, entrance exams and so much more; between 10 – 40% of accepted students never make it to campus in the fall according to the Strategic Data Project out of Harvard University, becoming victims of what researchers have called the summer melt. Unfortunately, these rates can be even higher for students from low and moderate-income families. The time between high school graduation and walking onto a college campus in the fall can seem like forever with all kinds of potential roadblocks and distractions along the way. 

That’s where Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training is here to help. 
While we know that a traditional four-year university is not for everyone, we also know that by as early as next year (2020) – 65 percent of all jobs in our economy will require some form of postsecondary education or training. The Center for Employment Training is designed to serve anyone who wants real training with life-changing results.


We offer training programs in some of the most in-demand careers in our community - Medical Assisting, Health Technology Administration as well as Business & Computer Technologies. Consequently, CET does not have entry requirements unlike most colleges, universities, or other training institutions. You are treated as an individual with unique aspirations, needs, and abilities. Training is short-term and intensive—our goal is to get you into a career as quickly as you are qualified. You have a dedicated team wrapped around to provide support – a Skill Instructor to help you learn the basics of the career you want, a Success Coach to help you navigate whatever life throws your way during training and a Career Coach to help you attain your new dream job.

 
In addition, we partner with the Newport Adult Learning Center to offer GED and adult education services on-site as well as a Financial Wellness Coach to help you improve your credit and build your net worth. Our program is also open-entry, so a young person (or anyone!) can graduate from high school on Friday night and start training for their career on Monday morning – eliminating the summer melt. Last, but not least, the Center for Employment Training is a debt-free education so you won’t be saddled with the thousands of student loan debt as you embark on your first career. 




We’d love to tell you more about how we can help you achieve your goals, so please stop by an Information Session – no appointment necessary. We are here every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and every Thursday at 2 p.m. to give a tour and answer your questions. Our campus is conveniently located at 601 Washington Avenue; Suite 140 in Newport, KY.

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

June 05, 2019

1. Start saving for a down payment early

It’s common to put 20% down, but many lenders now permit much less, and first-time homebuyer programs allow as little as 3% down. But putting down less than 20% may mean higher costs and paying for mortgage insurance, and even a small down payment can still be hefty. For example, a 5% down payment on a $200,000 home is $10,000.


2. Explore your down payment and mortgage options

There are lots of mortgage options out there, each with its own combination of pros and cons. Making a higher down payment will mean having a lower monthly mortgage payment. If you want the smallest mortgage payment possible, opt for a 30-year fixed mortgage. But if you can afford larger monthly payments, you can get a lower interest rate with a 20-year or 15-year fixed loan


3. Research state and local assistance programs

In addition to federal programs, many states offer assistance programs for first-time homebuyers with perks such as down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, tax credits and discounted interest rates. Your county or municipality may also have first-time homebuyer programs.


4. Determine how much home you can afford

Before you start looking for your dream home, you need to know what’s actually within your price range. Use this home affordability calculator to determine how much you can safely afford to spend.


5. Check your credit and pause any new activity

When applying for a mortgage loan, your credit will be one of the key factors in whether you’re approved, and it will help determine your interest rate and possibly the loan terms.

So check your credit before you begin the homebuying process. Dispute any errors that could be dragging down your credit score and look for opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts.

6. Compare mortgage rates

Many home buyers get a rate quote from only one lender, but this often leaves money on the table. Comparing mortgage rates from at least three lenders can save you more than $3,500 over the first five years of your loan, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Get at least three quotes and compare both rates and fees.


7. Get a preapproval letter

You can get pre-qualified for a mortgage, which simply gives you an estimate of how much a lender may be willing to lend based on your income and debts. But as you get closer to buying a home, it’s smart to get a preapproval, where the lender thoroughly examines your finances and confirms in writing how much it's willing to lend you, and under what terms. Having a preapproval letter in hand makes you look much more serious to a seller and can give you an upper hand over buyers who haven’t taken this step.


8. Hire the right buyer's agent

You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer's agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.


9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

  • Research nearby schools, even if you don’t have kids since they affect home value.
  • Look at local safety and crime statistics.
  • Map the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use.
  • Drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.

10. Stick to your budget

Look at properties that cost less than the amount you were approved for. Although you can technically afford your preapproval amount, it’s the ceiling — and it doesn’t account for other monthly expenses or problems like a broken dishwasher that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Shopping with a firm budget in mind will also help when it comes time to make an offer.


11. Make the most of open houses

When you're touring homes during open houses, pay close attention to the home’s overall condition, and be aware of any smells, stains or items in disrepair. Ask a lot of questions about the home, such as when it was built, when items were last replaced and how old key systems like the air conditioning and the heating are.

 

First-time home buyer mistakes to avoid


1. Not budgeting for closing costs

In addition to saving for a down payment, you’ll need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can be significant. Closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of your loan amount.


2. Not saving enough for after move-in expenses

Once you've saved for your down payment and budgeted for closing costs, you should also set aside a buffer to pay for what will go inside the house. This includes furnishings, appliances, rugs, updated fixtures, new paint and any improvements you may want to make after moving in.


3. Buying a home for today instead of tomorrow

It's easy to look at properties that meet your current needs. But if you plan to start or expand your family, it may be preferable to buy a larger home now that you can grow into. Consider your future needs and wants and whether the home you’re considering will suit them.


4. Passing up the chance to negotiate

A lot can be up for negotiation in the homebuying process, which can result in major savings. Are there any major repairs you can get the seller to cover, either by fully handling them or by giving you a credit adjustment at closing? Is the seller willing to pay for any of the closing costs? If you’re in a buyer's market, you may find the seller will bargain with you to get the house off the market.


5. Not knowing the limits of a home inspection

  • Not all inspections test for things like radon, mold or pests, so be sure you know what's included.
  • Make sure the inspector can access every part of the home, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.
  • Attend the inspection and pay close attention.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your inspector to take a look — or a closer look — at something. And ask questions. No inspector will answer the question, “Should I buy this house?” so you’ll have to make this decision after reviewing the reports and seeing what the seller is willing to fix.

6. Not buying adequate homeowners insurance

Before you close on your new house, your lender will require you to buy homeowners' insurance. Shop around and compare insurance rates to find the best price. Look closely at what’s covered in the policies; going with a less expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Also, flood damage isn’t covered by homeowners' insurance, so if your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.


7. Consult with a HUD Certified Housing Counselor

Brighton Center have HUD certified Housing Counselors that can assist you with reaching your goal of homeownership.  IF THIS IS YOUR GOAL please contact Brighton Center at (859) 491-8303 Ext. 2314.

Our Region is filled with Untapped Young Talent

May 15, 2019

By Talia Frye, Workforce Innovation Director, Brighton Center, Inc.


Did you know that over 6,000 young adults (ages 16-24) currently living in the eight counties of Northern Kentucky are not connected to employment or education? That’s right – today, there are thousands of young adults across Northern Kentucky who are not working and are not in school. This population is known as Opportunity Youth.  

According to the Opportunity Index, in Northern Kentucky during 2016, there were 6,490 Opportunity Youth, with the majority (5,380 or 82%) in Campbell, Kenton, and Boone Counties.  Concurrently, Northern Kentucky has the lowest unemployment rate in Kentucky at 3.6% (February 2019) and the state needs to annually add 165,000 workers to the labor force to meet national labor participation rates.  Every person on the sidelines of our labor force is desperately needed to ensure economic vitality in our region.  The education and employment needs for Opportunity Youth are crucial. 

What we believe to be true is that our young adults are not lacking talent nor are they lacking motivation; in fact, today’s young adults are extremely intelligent and possess many of the critical skills sought after by regional employers, who are in desperate need to fill open positions. So, what’s the solution?

One thing is for certain – the Kentucky Career Center, Northern Kentucky’s largest, most comprehensive workforce development resource, is assuming a major role in addressing the issue.
  
Brighton Center’s Youth Talent Development Services, a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program funded by Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, works with Opportunity Youth to connect them to in-demand training and/or internships at local businesses in the most high demand sectors.  Youth are comprehensively supported by their Workforce Coach who can link them to resources in the community that are impeding their ability to get connected to the workforce including housing, transportation, mental health, and other basic needs. Youth Talent Development Services also partners with local high schools to provide in-demand sector exploration events, resume workshops, and mock employment interviews.

In addition to Brighton Center’s program, Job Corps is also present at the Kentucky Career Center and offers a different career training pathway, for 16-24-year-olds, which includes a residential component. Job Corps graduates either enter the workforce or an apprenticeship, move on to higher education, or join the military. For more information about Job Corps, visit www.recruiting.jobcorps.gov

We have every reason to be optimistic, even excited, about the future of our workforce because we have a pool of young talented individuals who are eager to make an impact in the world. And, we have an array of excellent workforce development resources available to help them do just that. We simply need to do a better job connecting the two.
For more information about Youth Talent Development Services offered at the Kentucky Career Center, contact Eric Owsley at eowsley@brightoncenter.com or (859) 292-2642.

The Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (NKWIB) drives the work of the local Kentucky Career Center system to prepare and connect qualified job seekers to the hiring needs of regional employers. For more information, visit www.nkcareercenter.org/workforce-investment-board.

The local Kentucky Career Center (KCC) system is Northern Kentucky’s largest, most comprehensive, workforce resource serving job seekers and employers through a collaboration of 13 partner organizations.  Kentucky Career Centers are located in Covington, Florence, Carrollton, and Williamstown.  For more information, visit: www.nkcareercenter.org.

Volunteer Appreciation

April 12, 2019

April is volunteer appreciation month and we have a lot of reasons to be appreciative.

1,817 reasons to be exact!

Did you know that the national average dollar value per volunteer is $24.14 an hour? That is a huge impact and savings! Because of the generosity of others who volunteer, we are able to provide programming and services that might not be available otherwise.

Volunteers provided important support to programs by:
 

Helping to stabilize families who are experiencing a crisis
Providing experiences to youth to build leadership and reach their fullest potential
Providing necessary supports in our Early Childhood Education programs to help children reach developmental milestones
Providing free tax preparation that puts refunds back into the hands of hard-working NKY families
Providing assistance with resumes and conducting mock interviews with individuals seeking employment
Providing vital support to women on their path to recovery


Here is the incredible impact volunteers made in FY19 alone!


These volunteers helped Brighton Center serve 43,736 individuals through 41 programs on their path to long term self-sufficiency! We simply could not do this without our volunteers!

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