Education & Opportunity Partnership

The Leg Up Program, in partnership with Tarrant County College Northwest Campus is recruiting young adults from the at-risk communities throughout Fort Worth in order to fill sixty scholarship opportunities for Waste Water Operator Certifications. The Leg Up has partnered with Cassata, Boys and Girls Club and Fort Worth ISD in order to recruit for six, eight-week training sessions over the next eighteen months.

In order to prepare students for the academic rigors of the courses, each student will receive free academic boot-camp prior to starting the courses, group facilitated study sessions and one-on-one tutoring as needed. Transportation and meals are provided to each student enrolled in the courses through the Leg Up Program. In addition to receiving Texas Commission on Environmental Equality licenses, participants will also be paired with a Leg Up Mentor, and receive Life Skills and Soft Skills Coaching. Each mentor is coached on how to support and further the practice of the Life Skills and Soft Skills Coaching each student receives.

Upon completion of all training, each individual is guaranteed to receive a fourteen week paid internship with any number of agencies/municipalities throughout DFW who have a growing gap in their workforce that keeps water running to our faucets. After their internship, graduates will be eligible for permanent employment at an average hourly rate of $20 per hour, or approximately $40,000 a year, which truly is a Leg Up! All tuition and licensing expenses are paid for by TCC and the Leg Up Program.

Water and Wastewater Licensed Operators perform a vital role in maintaining the quality of both the human population and the natural environment. This program is designed to provide students with the technical knowledge to competently perform in the water/wastewater industry. All courses are approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the environmental licensing agency for the state of Texas. Graduates are eligible to apply and test for the appropriate TCEQ licensing exam providing all other TCEQ requirements are met.

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A Success Story: Bennie Grisham

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August 2014, Board Chairman, Robert M. McCarthy, Sr. decided to put his idea of the Leg Up Program to the test. He hired Bennie Grisham, who was then living at Presbyterian Night Shelter, to work for his successful concrete construction company, Cheyenne Construction. Soon thereafter, Bennie was hard at work in the Cheyenne Shop repairing the tools crews use on job sites.

Quickly after Bennie began his work, it became evident that Bennie was going to continue with Cheyenne for life. His focused work ethic, great attitude and eagerness to add value to the company became evident. “When I finished work on one job, I would ask my supervisor what else I could do,” he said. It was obvious that Bennie was All In.

Bennie continued to work for Cheyenne and live at Presbyterian Night Shelter for the next ten months. In spring of 2015, the Leg Up Program was able to successfully advocate for his DUI fines in Illinois from a 2002 conviction, to be reduced from $1,600 to $650. Cheyenne Construction generously paid his remaining fines, and set up a payroll deduction for Bennie to pay the company back.

After getting to know Bennie, a member of the Cheyenne team, invited Bennie to join her and her husband for dinner and a night out. To everyone’s surprise, at the karaoke event that night, Bennie brought down the house with a standing ovation and cheers for him to sing another after another, and another! No one ever thought this homeless man from Illinois had such a gift and talent.

During the summer of 2015, Bennie was able to move out of the homeless shelter! He continues to be a valuable asset to Cheyenne, fixing tools that would otherwise have to be replaced. The Leg Up Program continues to support and advocate for Bennie towards the goal of getting his driver’s license. Before we know it, he will be completely independent, with a car
and home to call his own.

High five, Bennie!

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