When Steven Motton was a kid, his family ate ketchup sandwiches.
“To me, I always say, if you haven’t had a ketchup sandwich for lunch or for dinner, you’ve never been poor,” Motton said.
Graduating this summer from the Excel Center, a free adult high school provided by Goodwill stores, in Anderson, Indiana, is giving Motton the opportunity he needs to ensure his newborn son and young daughter will be able to rise up out of poverty, he said.
Now, a new Excel Center location with 300 seats for students is slated to open July 2018 in Muncie at 1023 W Jackson St.
Current Muncie director and previous Anderson director Brandon Marks said the kind of opportunity Motton will gain with his diploma will soon be available to Muncie residents.
“When [children] go home and mom and dad now have the confidence to help them with their math homework later on, that’s impactful for a kiddo,” Marks said.
A high school diploma isn’t the only benefit students will get from the Muncie Excel Center — students can study for certifications for various careers, as well as be provided with free on-site child care and free transportation from MITS, according to a press release.
Motton said right now the Excel Center has lined up employment options for him and he has had the option to earn industry-recognized certifications.
Just the same in a traditional high school, Excel Center students work with career counselors. Having previously worked with students on college and career readiness, Marks knows the variety of services students need.
Whatever the student needs to get to where they plan on going, staff helps them, Marks said. This can take the form of setting up certification exams, building interview skills or helping file the FAFSA.
However, making time in a schedule to pick up classes isn’t easy, Motton said, even when the Excel Center can schedule around students’ work hours.
Motton had to drop a shift at his job to find the time to earn his high school diploma.
“It was a huge sacrifice,” Motton said. “I took a $10,000 pay cut.”
That pay cut, though, should pay off in the long run. According to a press release from the Excel Center, graduates’ average annual increase in pay is more than $9,000.
Motton said when he failed an entrance exam for a job he spent six months interviewing for, he knew he had no choice but to go back to school for the first time in 12 years.
And although he dropped a shift at work to enroll in classes, Motton’s schedule remained full.
Most mornings, Motton wakes up at 5:30, goes to the gym and takes care of his children until dropping them off at their babysitter before noon. Then, he would either go to class or go to work, depending on the day.
With this schedule, Motton works about an average of 40 hours per week on top of classes.
“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it,” Motton said.
The Excel Center is not the only option Indiana residents have for tuition-free job training as of March 21, though.
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb signed Indiana House Bill 1002 and Senate Bill 50 that allow both recent high school graduates and adults to get training for high-demand jobs, according to a press release from the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education.
Enrollment for the Muncie Excel Center is open now and can be found online.