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The Inland Empire, which encompasses 27,000 square miles in Southern California, has one of the highest rates of poverty in the U.S.'s twenty-five largest metropolitan areas. One in five people there live at the poverty level. Smooth Transition, Inc., is a nonprofit educational and vocational training organization that has been working with local at-risk populations since 2009. It aims to provide a gateway towards empowerment, educational, and employment opportunities to lead a fulfilling, prosperous, and purposeful life.
Smooth Transition began working to reach at-risk teens early — before they dropped out of high school or left the foster care system. It later expanded its program to include all at-risk populations, including displaced adults, as a means to better help the community. Smooth Transition's life skills development and educational training increase levels of employability. Its mentorship helps prevent its clients from re-entering the foster and judicial system or repeating poverty and homelessness cycles.
The nonprofit provides flexible and relevant programs that are accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Its programs are directly tied to career pathways and provide students with vocational certifications at little or no cost to them. Graduates have a high completion rate as compared with other programs that serve at-risk populations. But students also come away with significant increases in their perceived self-value and a decrease in perceived barriers to success.
In 2016, Smooth Transition served roughly 2,800 people with just four full-time staff members. Many of its programs are computer-based and require that its computer labs serve multiple uses and multiple users. One of the organization's board members manages its IT needs on a volunteer basis. He recommended Symantec's Norton Small Business, and the organization has been using it on its systems since it was founded.
Symantec's donation of antivirus protection — through TechSoup — has enabled the nonprofit to safely use its computer labs and has increased the number of programs and services it can offer to its students. According to Dr. Robin Goins, president and executive director of Smooth Transition, "The donations we receive are the foundation of our success, and we cannot express enough the generational and community impact the Symantec donations provide us. Smooth Transition is an appreciative recipient of the donations we received from Symantec and we look forward to providing even more impactful community programs as a result."
Goins goes on to describe how Smooth Transition's testing centers are networked, with students taking roughly 250,000 different kinds of exams. She worried that without security in the testing centers, the tests would be disrupted, causing a very serious problem. "If we have things disrupting our classes it costs us money. It also costs students the ability to complete their work. Having viruses attack us would be catastrophic for us."
Goins points out that Norton Small Business also helps protect confidential information. "As a school, we're required to protect the identity of our students and a lot of their demographic information," she said.
Smooth Transition will continue to work throughout the Inland Empire to provide flexible training and resources for those who don't fit the traditional education model. Though it faces many challenges in providing students with real, relevant work tools and skills, its staff is relieved, knowing that its systems and data are protected.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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