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New initiative aims to prepare children of custodial workers for college

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
February 24, 2014

The Center for P-16 Initiatives at Texas State University has launched a new outreach service, “Construyendo La Casa/Building the House,” aimed at inspiring and informing Central Texas janitors and custodians to help their children become college and career ready.

Construyendo La Casa/Building the House is part of the statewide, grassroots movement Generation Texas - fulfilling the community engagement component of the local council, CenTX GenTX, housed at Texas State.

"English Language Learners, and low-income students in general, traditionally have the lowest performance rates in our region, and they are among the fastest growing student populations as well," said Michelle Hamilton, director of the Center for P-16 Initiatives. "If we allow the children of our local janitors and cleaners to fall behind it costs each family and the region as a whole, millions in potential earnings. Grassroots, community engagement is crucial to avoiding such losses."

There are approximately 165,000 janitors and custodial workers currently employed in Texas. Janitors in Texas earn an hourly mean wage of $9.96, and typically have only a high school diploma or less according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A great many of these workers are native Spanish speakers, and their children would likely be the first in their family to attend college.

CenTX GenTX and the Center for P-16 Initiatives have teamed with Professional Janitorial Services (PJS) in Austin to provide the PJS employees and their families with crucial information regarding academic and developmental milestones. The first bi-lingual workshop will take place on Saturday, March 1 at the PJS headquarters in Austin. Hopefully, the workshop will lead to more outreach possibilities that can serve the more than 3,000 janitors working in Central Texas.

"By investing in our employees and empowering them as parents, we are able to care for them in the way that matters most to them--their family," said Josh Coulter, director of the PJS Educational Initiative. "This creates a more loyal, productive, and united workforce, which affects every aspect of our business.

"This is also an intentional investment in the future of our community," he said. "CenTX GenTX is a powerful partner in this because they have the vision, passion and ability to give our employees the knowledge and tools they need to support the education of their kids through high school and beyond."

For more information on "Construyendo La Casa" or to sign a company up for a college and career workshop, contact Isaac Torres at (512) 245-8192 or via email at it10@txstate.edu.