The Martin Luther King Center in Erie has a program that helps individuals find jobs and take back control of their lives.

This program is the workforce development program, which held a graduation on Friday for students who recently completed the program.

The workforce development program looks to teach people to take care of themselves and that means finding work.

The first step is jobs. Anyone is able to be a student of this program but the school students are currently the main focus.

“Right now, we’re working with the Corry School District, the Union City School District, McDowell, so that we can spread efforts out and get more kids opportunities right out of high school.” said Kevin Arrington. Director of Workforce Development for the MLK Center.

$240,000 has gone back into the community since launching the program by paying students to learn by initiative.

“We designed this initiative to be able to pay people to learn and that’s a really important factor because people are living in survival mode and they actually don’t have the time to be away from work to try to better themselves or educate themselves.” Arrington said.

Current and former students who have graduated from the MLK workforce development program say how their lives continue to be impacted since graduating.

“I’m not working at Lowe’s. I’m happy with life and my career is still down the line.” said Chris Berdis, Former Student.

“I actually just started at TONI&GUY and I’m almost halfway through that,” said Devon Henderson, former student. “I’ve actually been getting a lot of different opportunities outside of me going to school.”

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“It actually connected me with an employer. I am currently employed with the company that Kevin Arrington connected me with.” said Taylor Aiken, former student.

The students feel optimistic about their careers in the future thanks to the program.