Honest Review & Information about Worksource Oregon’s Reboot Grant
What is the Reboot Grant? The Reboot Grant is designed to help students that have been out of work for 27+ weeks with their long term (basically the duration of 1 schooling program) educational goals in certain specifically funded by this program information technology or manufacturing programs. The Grant’s funding cycle runs from 2015-2017, and the grant specifically targets Oregon residents to attract IT and manufacturing to Oregon.
I was a recipient of the predecessor grant to the current Reboot Grant offered through Worksource Oregon, and I also attempted to qualify for the Reboot Grant. The Reboot Grant has pretty steep qualifying factors, and in the end your ability to access the Reboot Grant is left to a computer, which isn’t explained at all until the end (I’ll explain more about below); so I thought I would give my honest review of the process.
Also, for those who don’t know, Worksource Oregon offices help folks develop skills to find work through various workshops, counselors, and programs; they have offices throughout Multnomah and Washington Counties, including one located inside PCC Willow Creek.
Who Qualifies for this? Unfortunately a lot fewer people qualify for this grant than its predecessor grant (called Prostep):
- Unemployed: 27+ weeks of current unemployment (and lost job on or after December 1, 2007).
- Underemployed: Lost job on or after December 1, 2007, and have since been unable to obtain full-time work equal to previous wage or responsibility.
- Unemployed (any duration) Veteran with verification documents.
- Unemployed (any duration) Veteran Eligible Spouse with verification documents.
Additionally you must have:
- A high school diploma
- Be over age 18
- Be ready and able to start your program if they approve you
- You need to be able to afford to support yourself while in your program
- You will need to attend (if you’re admitted) an additional class designed for Reboot participants at Worksource
- You will need to arrange periodic meetings with your Worksource appointed counselor
For more information on qualifying factors visit Reboot’s website or visit your local Worksource Oregon office.
How do I apply for this?
Step 1: Go to a Worksource Oregon office and register for their services.
Step 2: Meet with an employment counselor to go over your goals for working with Worksource.
Step 3: Attend a Reboot Information session which contains generic information about the program, and they hand out the paper application ONLY at the information session. The sessions are typically offered twice a month.
Step 4: Complete the required workshops and the NCRC exam (which is a National Career Readiness Certificate all day test).
Step 5: Fill out the application completely, which means:
- Interviewing 2 professionals in the field you’re interested in going into
- Knowing (loosely) what you want to do when you’re finished with your degree
- Filling out a “Prosperity Planner” (which is a budget planner)
- Getting admitted to the program that you’re interested in that you know will be covered by the Reboot Grant (for example, I don’t believe Microelectronics qualifies but Computer Information Systems does)
- Schedule a meeting with your Worksource Advisor; whom this is is explained at the Reboot Information session
- Bringing hard copies of all the required documents, and I’d recommend you also bring your class list, your NCRC exam results, and your book list if you’ve registered for classes
Step 6: If everything looks complete, and you meet the requirements otherwise then you’ll be cleared to make an appointment for the “final determination” with a Reboot Grant representative.
Step 7: At the meeting with the Reboot Grant representative you find out that everything you’ve done so far only gives you a 50/50 shot of getting funding (they really, really should’ve explained that sooner). You are told that there is no way that the representative or you have any influence on whether you’re in the Reboot Grant recipient category or not. You are told to press a button on the computer, and the computer will randomly assign you as a recipient or not. So it all comes down to a button press.
My review and outcome:
This seems like a very hopeful program because the Reboot grant can fully cover your schooling, your childcare, and your transportation for the duration of your program. Therefore, since I was unemployed for more than 27 weeks I thought that this seemed like a really great way to continue to afford to go to school full time. However, my experience with Worksource was the process is cumbersome and disorganized, and they really, really should tell people sooner than at the end of the process that there’s a 50/50 shot of getting funding even if you fully qualify otherwise.
My partner also attempted to apply, but he was told by a representative at Worksource that since he already had 2 degrees (unrelated to IT), “Worksource doesn’t make a habit of funding “professional students” and only “serious students” ”, and he should look for work instead of schooling.
The result of my button press at the end of my Reboot application was: “You’re not a recipient.” I was then told that I get no assistance at all at this point from Worksource with completing my degree, but 3 years from now I’ll be sent $50 for participating in a survey on whether I was more or less successful at completing my IT degree and finding work than their participants. I admit, I felt insulted by the $50 consolation prize and a bit irked that Worksource’s state funding for the Reboot Grant is $8.5 million dollars and specifically an additional $450,000 is going to PCC…so why do they need to ration the funding so much with an already very narrow group that would qualify??? Anyone who’s been un/under employed for more than 27 weeks knows that you’re hitting the bottom of the barrel and need help, but apparently only 50% of those people will be helped at all.
Therefore, although Reboot can be a great way for a very select and narrow band of people to return to school, please remember that there are some major hurdles to being accepted and you might find yourself in my situation: I will have to self-fund the rest of my degree, despite not being employed full time since January of 2015, and as so many of us know, self-paying, even at PCC, can be a daunting task…much less for someone working part time and trying to go to school full time.
If anyone wants further information on my experiences, I’m happy to talk about them. I also want to say that these are my experiences, and your experiences might differ…but if you’re interested in pursuing this grant, I hope you’ll feel better informed and able to proceed with optimistic caution.