MANSFIELD -- The education working group of the Richland County Task Force on Racism has scheduled three upcoming, free online events to assist local residents.
"I feel good about what out working group has done thus far," Donna Hight, a group member and professor at The Ohio State University-Mansfield. "Other working groups are making progress, as well. We are making headway."
The group's vision is to end systemic racism and provide access, opportunity and equity in education and lifelong learning throughout the county.
The local task force, formed in 2020, has seven working groups seeking to improve racial equity in the areas of business, criminal justice, education, health care, housing, employment and mental health.
Hight said the first online event is planned Monday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. aimed at explaining how teens or adults can return to complete their high school diplomas and earn a career credential for free.
Planned panelists for the event include Don Paullin, adult education assistant director for Pioneer Career & Technology Center Adult Education; Steve Russell, workforce development coordinator for Mansfield/Richland County Public Library; Jill Dailey, enrollment specialist for Cypress High School; Andrea Karpiak, program coordinator for Mansfield City Schools Adult Education; and Lisa Miracle, assistant director of the Madison Adult Career Center.
Hight said each panelist will explain options available at their sites. Those interested in participating can register by going to go.osu.edu/finishhighschool. Zoom links will be sent for the event.
The next online event is planned Friday, Oct. 8, with two sessions planned from 9 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., featuring representatives from OSU-Mansfield and North Central State College.
"Admissions representatives from the two campuses will talk about attending both campuses, as well explore what students should ask on other college tours and visits," Hight said.
She said both institutions are affordable and accessible to a diverse audience of students.
"We welcome juniors and seniors to attend. If everything goes well, the sessions will be recorded and made available for future viewing," Hight said.
Those interested in participating in one of the two sessions can register at https://go.osu.edu/richland. A Zoom link will be sent.
A third event is scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 2, to offer advice and guidance on how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form needed to qualify for college grants and government-backed loans.
Planned panelists include Jennifer Fry, director of enrollment services at OSU-Mansfield, and Kendra Boggs, financial aid specialist with the college.
Those wishing to participate can register at go.osu.edu/fafsamansfield. Zoom meeting links will be sent.
In the planning stages, according to Hight, is a Spring 2022 session to offer students advice on how to negotiate their first year in college. Also in the works is a county-wide visit to visit Central State University and Wilberforce University, two historically Black universities in Ohio.
The education group is using goals found in the North End Community Improvement Collaborative's 2020 "Richland County State of the African American Community Report."
That report emphasizes a need to increase the pre- and post-secondary educational attainment of African Americans, as a first focus, and other people of color, with an urgent focus on men.
Goals include increasing/improving high school graduation rates, addressing the loss of students through the secondary educational pipeline, educating how to manage student debt and increasing college and post-secondary preparation for workforce success.
Hight said the education working group, which meets monthly, is also working on what it can do to assist in "the pre-kindergarten space" and what assistance it can provide to parents, students and guardians in the Pre-K through third grade.