MCOE offers program to shape young adults’ career plans

The Merced County Office of Education will offer guidance and training to young adults who are trying to figure out what steps to take after leaving high school.

MCOE will host the Empower Program, which offers paid and unpaid work experience, assistance with General Education Development fees, vocational training and mentoring. The program is designed for “out-of-school youth,” or adults ages 18-24.

Participants will work one on one with a career adviser to develop a plan to best address the young person’s needs, whether that be first obtaining a driver’s license or seeking child care before starting job training, said Daphne Post, the Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act coordinator for MCOE.

“This can be a life-changing program,” Post said.

Possibly the most valuable aspect of the program is the mentorship, Post said.

“This is a really positive person in their life giving them direction and truly following through to make sure they get where they want to go,” she said.

After attending an orientation, participants get a clear picture of what they’ll get out of the program, Post said. Participants set short- and long-term goals that are crafted around their individual situations. Participants will identify their interest areas and strengths to begin setting up a career plan to follow.

“The point of it is really about working with the local area and seeing where jobs are in that area and where there’s growth,” Post said about industry partners. “These people are stakeholders here. We want to support them in that and provide them with people that are trained and ready.”

The program is funded through the Merced County Workforce Investment Board and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Empower Program has room for and is accepting more participants.

To qualify, one must be between ages 18 and 24 and not enrolled in school. To join Empower, participants must have proof of citizenship and photo identification.

Various other factors apply to the qualifications for the Empower program, including those who have been through the justice system, someone with a disability and more. Those who have dropped out of high school, are enrolled at Merced Adult School working on a high school diploma or a GED, or have a valid high school diploma do qualify.

Enrollees must attend an orientation session. Two sessions will be held on July 8, one from 9 a.m. to noon and another from 1-4 p.m., at the Wolfe Education Center, 732 W. 13th St. in Merced.

To reserve a seat at the orientation, call 209-381-5926 or 209-381-5923.

For more information on the Empower program, contact Toula Eccles at 209-381-5923 or, or Rebecca Lincoln at 209-381-5916 or