Philadelphia OIC Launches its WorkForce Academy

A Tuition-Free Accelerated High School, College & Career Readiness Program for Teens and Young Adults

Philadelphia, Pa. – August 31, 2017 – This week, Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), a workforce development organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy, opened the doors to the Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center WorkForce Academy (OICWA). The Academy serves as a re-entry program for students who were unable to earn their diplomas from a traditional high school; and, as an alternative education program for students that need to earn their diplomas, and gain training and/or certification in various career fields. Located at Philadelphia OIC’s headquarters, 1231 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, the Academy is run through the School District of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Network, which provides non-traditional educational options for out-of-school youth, students who are significantly at risk for dropping out, and students who are subject to disciplinary transfer or expulsion.

According to the School District of Philadelphia, as of 2015, the average Philadelphia high school graduation rate was approximately 70%. While this reflects an increase over previous years, it is still well below the 2015 national average graduation rate of approximately 83%. These numbers illustrate a continued need within the City of Philadelphia to provide an alternative form of education to assist the students for whom a traditional high school environment is not the best fit. Along with meeting this need by providing an enhanced learning environment, the Philadelphia OICWA will also be preparing career- and workforce-ready individuals for some of the city’s largest and most demanding career fields, thus assisting them in achieving financial independence and strengthening the city’s economy. As of June 2017, the unemployment rate within Philadelphia sat at 6.4% according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also sitting well above the national average of 4.5%. Philadelphia OICWA will work to actively combat and improve both pressing issues that residents of Philadelphia face.

Along with completing mandatory Core Curriculum classes, Philadelphia OICWA students will have the option to participate in workforce development training that allows them to gain real-world skills, while earning their high school diplomas at an accelerated pace. During its first year, Philadelphia OICWA will offer course of study and job development in four of Philadelphia’s premier work industries: banking, culinary arts, environmental services, and hospitality.

All students who graduate from Philadelphia OICWA will receive a diploma from their local high school, as well as the option to earn one of the following certifications:

• American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute Certificate
• BankWork$ Certificate
• ServSafe Certificate

To supplement core classes and workforce development programming, the school day at Philadelphia OICWA is structured to allow students to participate in internships and externships with leading Philadelphia organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Santander Bank, and area hotels and restaurants. The Academy also has a required leadership component that will provide all students with leadership skills, preparing them to enter the workforce as well-rounded professionals and equipping them with interview, resume writing and relationship building skills.

“The addition of Philadelphia OIC Workforce Academy to the Philadelphia education system is a monumental step in the direction of eliminating poverty and providing Philadelphia residents with the tools and skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency and financial independence through stable career paths,” said Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, President and CEO of Philadelphia OIC. “This new, alternative learning institution will change the lives of hundreds of students and their families every year, providing Philadelphia with a new stream of capable and prepared workers; and, ultimately, helping grow the city’s economy.”

Philadelphia OICWA is led by Philadelphia OIC’s Vice President of Education and Executive Director of OICWA, Dr. Kahlila Lee, who brings nearly 20 years of education experience and more than 10 years of leadership experience to the new position. Lee previously served as the Chief of Academics and Student Services at Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School where she was responsible for the implementation of a state-aligned curriculum, supervision of charter compliance and oversight of program and instructional assessment.

“I am thrilled to embark upon this educational journey with Philadelphia OIC,” said Lee, “The Philadelphia OICWA is filling a void that currently exists within the Philadelphia educational community and providing the non-traditional students of the city with a second opportunity to succeed.”

Philadelphia OICWA enrollment is capped at 125 students, with space still available for the 2017-18 school year and ongoing enrollment. Students interested in attending can apply at any time and, following the submission of an application, all state-required documents, attendance of an orientation, and acceptance into the school will be eligible to begin classes. Those who live within the City of Philadelphia between the ages of 16-21 and are interested in learning more can contact Philadelphia OIC at requestphilaoicwfa@philaoic.org for additional information.