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National Best Initiative Team Up to Educate Youth Development Workers

May 10, 2005

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 10, 2005 - The Springfield College School of Human Services (SHS), based in Springfield, Mass., and the National Training Institute for Community Youth Work in Washington, D.C., today announced a new collaboration to provide advanced training for persons in the field of youth development. Under a new agreement, youth development workers will have the opportunity to earn credits toward their bachelor’s degree in human services at Springfield College by completing segments of the BEST Apprenticeship Program of the AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work.

The Springfield College School of Human Services will award 17 academic credits toward the bachelor’s degree for persons who complete the first two segments of the BEST Apprenticeship Program and enroll in the college’s undergraduate program in human services. The SHS is reviewing other segments of the BEST training curriculum for the possibility of awarding additional credits. The SHS requires successful completion of 120 course credits for the bachelor’s degree in human services.

The AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work creates national training and education programs for the workforce that guide America’s young people toward healthy and productive lives. The BEST Apprenticeship Program is one of such programs that prepare youth development workers by providing supervised on-the-job training and pertinent coursework at higher education institutions. The BEST Apprenticeship Program also awards United Sates Department of Labor certificates to youth workers who successfully complete its training program demonstrating qualifications to work directly with young people in youth programs.

According to Springfield College School of Human Services Dean Robert J. Willey Jr., “Our collaboration with BEST is an ideal marriage between a college and an agency with demonstrated success in preparing leaders for the field of youth development, and a common commitment to integrating training with relevant on-the-job experience.”

Elaine Johnson, director of the AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work said, “Youth development work is competency based, and Springfield College will be an important collaborator in helping youth workers build vital knowledge and skills. The involvement of the college, with its international reputation in educating leaders for the human services field, also will advance public perception of the professionalism of youth development workers.”

SHS bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are designed to build the leadership skills of human services professionals while they are serving their communities. The curriculum is structured for working adults with classes two weekends a month for bachelor’s degree candidates and one weekend a month at the master’s level. A hallmark of the program is that students identify a community need and design and implement a program to address it. Such projects are usually done in partnership with community organizations.

Best Apprenticeship Programs are located in Springfield, Mass.; New Haven, Conn.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Hampton/Newport News, Va.; and Kansas City, Mo. The SHS operates programs on weekends at 10 campuses around the nation including three that are near or within weekend commuting distance of BEST programs. They are: Springfield, Mass.; Wilmington, Del.; and Milwaukee, Wis. Other SHS campuses are located in Boston, Mass.; Inglewood/Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Manchester, N.H.; Charleston, S.C.; and St. Johnsbury, Vt.

The SHS is the only school in an institution of higher education in the United States providing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in human services, and is the largest program of its kind in the nation with 2,000 students. SHS undergraduate programs are accredited by Council for Standards in Human Service Education, and Springfield College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Recently, the YMCA of the USA named Springfield College a premier educator of YMCA professionals.

Founded in 1885, Springfield College is a private, coeducational institution that emphasizes the education of leaders for the allied health sciences, human and social services, sports and movement activities, and the arts and sciences. Its distinctive humanics philosophy -- education of the whole person consisting of spirit, mind, and body -- prepares students for leadership in service to others. It is world renowned as the birthplace of basketball, a game created by Professor James Naismith in 1891, and as the alma mater of William G. Morgan, inventor of the game of volleyball. It also has a long-standing and close relationship with the YMCA as an educator of its leaders. Springfield College is ranked by “U.S.News & World Report” in “America’s Best Colleges-2005” in the top tier among Master’s Universities – North Region. The college offers 50 undergraduate and 14 graduate major areas of study and serves more than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional, and international students at its main campus in Springfield, Mass. and at its satellite campuses in Boston, Massachusetts; Inglewood/Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Wilmington, Delaware; Tampa, Florida; Manchester, New Hampshire; Charleston, South Carolina; St. Johnsbury, Vermont; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work (NTI) was established by the Academy for Educational Development in 1997 to strengthen the field of youth development through the training, education, and recognition of youth workers. The major focus of NTI’s work is to support local, state, and regional efforts to establish and sustain youth worker professional development systems, To that end, NTI manages the National BEST Network, a collaborative more than 25 BEST sites. A list of BEST sites, products and services can be found at nti.aed.org.

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