It was just two years ago when JEVS Human Services began a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to blaze trails in post-secondary education in the Philadelphia region. The key? Offering a low- to no-tuition degree with the help of grants, as well as a personal coach to assist adults juggling college while also working. Over this time, students in the pilot program have been able to complete their degrees nearly debt-free—in shorter periods of time than the traditional 2-year associate or 4-year bachelor’s—but perhaps more importantly, advance in their jobs or companies because of attained skills and credentials.

This month, JEVS is expanding this program with the launch of JEVS EduConnect and a new partner school: Brandman University. The partnership with SNHU and Brandman entails program support and coaching powered by JEVS and the specialized online curricula/degrees offered through these non-profit universities. The network of two schools now increases the number of majors and degree options we can offer to individuals who need flexible, high-quality and affordable education alternatives, especially those trying to recover from the economic dislocation caused by COVID-19.  Topping the list of opportunities that JEVS EduConnect now offers is a master’s degree program, more extensive offerings in IT, organizational leadership, education/teaching, psychology and counseling.

JEVS EduConnect is more than an avenue to higher learning. It represents an integrated, holistic approach to helping working or unemployed individuals in the community—many who have families to support and other socioeconomic obstacles to continuing and completing an education. With the support services of a dedicated, one-on-one coach, enrolled students get the “hand-holding” guidance they need throughout their journey and to stay the course.

“We are thrilled with the extent to which Brandman University has helped JEVS to expand our ability to serve the Greater Philadelphia community, as well as with their team’s incredible enthusiasm for our program’s mission,” said Nandi Jones-Clement, vice president of business development at JEVS Human Services. “We looked for a partner that didn’t just have stellar online capabilities and diverse learning options, but one who shares our drive to empower adults to move forward in their education, careers and personal fulfillment. Brandman has an undeniable dedication to remaining involved with us and are committed to the success of every student we enroll.”

Adding Brandman (which recently announced an alliance with University of Massachusetts) and its master’s degree to the JEVS EduConnect’s offerings is a definite game-changer because many of the adults seeking post-secondary education support from JEVS are in the 30-40-year-old age range and looking for meaningful career changes that will be supported by them having an advanced degree. In addition, given that JEVS focuses on educational support for adults trying to balance work, school and family responsibilities, Brandman’s virtual learning expertise and the fact that approximately 90% of their students work while completing a program and approximately 56% of graduates do so while caring for children, were significant selling points.

“When you look at the profile of adults coming to JEVS in order to connect to a college degree, they want expediency, as well as quality, affordability and convenience” said Clement.

JEVS has worked in the job development and educational space for eight decades and knows how vital it is to have support systems in place to help people overcome the gamut of challenges that start even before an adult decides to pursue a college degree. JEVS’s post-secondary coaches are with a student from the start and remain with them throughout their entire time earning a degree. Coach activities include: assisting with enrollment and financial aid processes; onboarding participants into the program; helping students to create a workplan that enables them to fit their online coursework into their daily lives; problem-solving challenges ranging from finding a quiet place to work at home to understanding what a project is asking them to do; organizing student study groups; and working to accommodate working students with evening phone or video chat sessions.

“With the pandemic driving so much uncertainty in our world, this program and the opportunities we now offer in partnership with Brandman University couldn’t be better timed,” said Clement. “More than just offering a path to a college degree, we’re giving people an exhilarating way to see and worked toward a promising future.”

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JEVS EduConnect will be holding virtual info sessions for those who want to learn more about pursuing an affordable, accredited and accelerated degree online.

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