Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Career Education (ACE) will be at the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) campus in Helena-West Helena, Friday, Feb. 11, for a community forum and celebration of the accomplishments of the students who successfully completed the Arkansas Works ACT Academy.

Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Career Education (ACE) will be at the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) campus in Helena-West Helena, Friday, Feb. 11, for a community forum and celebration of the accomplishments of the students who successfully completed the Arkansas Works ACT Academy. The community forum is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The graduation ceremony for the ACT Academy students is scheduled for 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Both will be held at the PCCUA Community Room, 1000 Campus Drive in Helena. Staff members from each of ACE’s three divisions - Career and Technical Education, Adult Education, and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services - will host the free community forum, which is designed to help residents from the area learn more about the agency’s services in order to improve their employment outlook.  Arkansas Rehabilitation Services will provide assistance and information to people with disabilities seeking academic and vocational training, vocational counseling, job placement, workplace accommodations, or guidance in transitioning from high school to further education. There will also be information about assistive technology devices to assist individuals with disabilities at home, school, or work Career and Technical Education representatives will offer information on the Arkansas Works program and apprenticeship programs.  Adult Education will offer assistance to adults who want to pursue a General Educational Development (GED) diploma and to those who are unemployed or underemployed and wish to improve their employability skills. Information on English as a Second Language classes and civics education classes to prepare for the U.S. citizenship test will also be available.
Among the booths represented will be the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, the Arkansas Kidney Disease Commission, the Supported Housing Network, PCCUA, Career Pathways, Office for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired/Interpreting Services, and the Arkansas Career Training Institute.
“This community forum will give people in the Helena-West Helena area to learn firsthand about services offered by the Arkansas Department of Career Education that can help them reach their education and career goals, as well their quality-of-life and independent living goals,” said ACE Director William L. “Bill” Walker, Jr. “This is the second time our agency has held this kind of community forum, and it’s been extremely successful in connecting people to our services. We think of these services as the key to success. When you learn more, you earn more.”
The day will wrap up with a commencement ceremony for students who participated in the three-week Arkansas Works ACT Academy. Statewide, 474 rising juniors and seniors completed the program designed to improve standardized test scores and reduce the need for remediation in college. Thirty-two students from three Helena-West Helena-area schools participated in the academy - 15 students from Helena-West Helena Central, nine from Barton-Lexa, and eight from Marvell. 
Statewide, 331 students improved their scores by at least one point. Two hundred ninety of those students scored 19 or higher and thus will not be required to take remedial courses in college. Additional Helena-West Helena-area students are expected to take the ACT exam in February, and these students will also take part in the graduation ceremony in order to be recognized for their hard work during the summer.
The Arkansas Works initiative has been active for one year in 21 of Arkansas+s most economically challenged counties, including Lee, Monroe, Phillips, and St. Francis counties.
“Because of Arkansas Works we’ve seen financial aid applications increase by almost 92 percent in our 21 target counties and we’re seeing the same thing in the Delta region of our state,” said Walker. “Our kids want to extend their educations beyond high school. This graduation ceremony is going to symbolize the beginning of an enormous change in lifestyle and economic possibilities in Arkansas.”