Educate to Elevate Expands Reach
April 1, 2021
FirstEnergy’s Educate to Elevate program is now available to Pennsylvania and West Virginia employees – giving more participants an opportunity to pursue their educational goals in business degree programs while continuing to work.
The growing initiative began last year in Ohio and provided college course offerings to Akron Contact Center and Self-Service employees via partnerships with Stark State College and The University of Akron.
Classes initially were conducted onsite at FirstEnergy facilities after the workday concluded, allowing employees to attend together as a unified cohort without needing to commute to area campuses. During the COVID-19 emergency, in-person classes were successfully transitioned to an online learning environment that is still being utilized today.
Poised for continued expansion, FirstEnergy recently announced a partnership with Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., to offer employees the option to pursue associate or bachelor degree programs in business. And a similar partnership with Pierpont Community & Technical College in Fairmont, W.Va., allows employees to work toward associate degrees in business, with the option to later pursue bachelor degrees through Fairmont State University.
“The opportunities available through the Educate to Elevate program will provide immeasurable value to our organization,” said Michelle Henry, vice president, Customer Service. “FirstEnergy is proud to partner with these accredited schools that share our vision for fostering employee personal growth and career success.”
To date, 18 students have enrolled in the Alvernia University program, which started virtual courses on Feb. 1. Another 13 Fairmont employees have enrolled at Pierpont, where courses began Jan. 18.
Students Already Reaping Benefits
No matter the location, Educate to Elevate’s commitment to helping FirstEnergy develop a highly skilled workforce of the future, through pursuit of college degrees, remains the same.
While the program was designed to meet the unique needs of Customer Service employees, it is open to any FirstEnergy employee.
Christina Riggeal and Carley Allan, Customer Service representatives at the Reading-Pottsville Pike Contact Center, and Alecia Lee, advanced Customer Service associate at the Fairmont Contact Center, entered the Educate to Elevate program this year and are already reaping its many benefits.
Dedicated to furthering their educations and career skills through the program, the three women are also busy moms who have mastered balancing work with school life.
“The company’s tuition reimbursement benefit was always attractive to me,” said Christina. “With Educate to Elevate, a lot of the stress associated with enrolling and starting courses was alleviated. In a short amount of time, my classes have already helped me strengthen my public speaking skills.”
Her coworker, Carley, agrees the experience has been worthwhile thus far: “I have gained more than just education for the degree – I am improving my time management skills and enhancing my ability to be resourceful. Having my coworkers in class with me and a flexible schedule goes a long way. I was challenged at times, but our cohort team boosted my spirit. Knowing we are on this journey together encourages me.”
For Alecia, the emphasis Educate to Elevate places on work-life balance, financial flexibility and a strong support system made participating in the program at Pierpont College a no brainer.
“Our cohort takes one class every eight weeks, usually at a fraction of the cost, grade dependent with FirstEnergy’s tuition reimbursement plan,” she explained. “The support system provided by the school, teachers and fellow employees is designed to help employees who put in the effort succeed.”