By Rebecca Reiner
Eleven years ago, Project Neighbors (PN) helped establish Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities (NEO) as a non-profit organization. PN Board Members Sharon Mortensen and Al Trost joined me as NEO’s founding Board members and PN supported NEO with a short-term line of credit until NEO’s funding sources kicked in.
The impact of NEO’s programs can be told in our data such as 2,300 high school graduates, but it is best told by our students and their families.
Dozens of alumni from NEO’s New Vistas High School and Adult Education attended NEO’s 10+ Year Celebration this June. They talked about how these programs changed their lives. One parent shared how her son went from being a withdrawn and highly anxious honors student to one who was confident, at peace with himself, and thriving socially and academically in his second year at college.
As NEO prepares for its next ten years, we are supported by seed funding that will allow us to better meet the needs of our students and regional employers. This July, NEO was awarded $945,000 from Porter County’s American Rescue Plan Act fund to develop an onsite Training Academy and daycare center. We are excited to work together with our regional adult education partners, area career centers, and universities to create affordable and accessible occupational training opportunities to high school and adult education students and to those in the community who seek retraining for some of the in-demand jobs.
We are very excited about growing our construction trades program this year and our partnership with Project Neighbors. Our students will gain valuable hands-on building experience and mentoring about employability skills. Project Neighbors will gain workers to tackle the many building projects on the horizon.