What is AO-K @ Work?
The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) has received a grant for $463,500 from Walmart to develop customized training programs branded as Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas @ Work (AO-K @ Work). These programs, which are delivered in partnership with retail and service-sector employers, focus on employer and employee needs, providing engaging staff development, and retaining a more skilled workforce.
AO-K @ Work is a program that provides the opportunity for employees to pursue their education at no cost to them. Instruction is available in English as a second language, skills for the workplace, or helping them earn their high school diploma. Classes are held at the workplace and at times compatible with their work schedule.
“We believe that it’s important for all people to thrive at work,” said Joshua Frazier-Sparks, senior manager for Walmart.org. “Supporting Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas @ Work and ensuring people gain the language skills they need to be successful is pivotal.”
How does the AO-K @ Work program work?
A local Adult Education provider will partner with an employer to develop a curriculum customized for their employees. Using the AO-K @ Work teaching model, the adult basic education instructor will develop students’ reading, writing, numeracy, English language, employability, and technology skills. The business trainer or manager provides industry vocabulary, situational examples, and employee materials to base the customized curriculum on. In addition, an Adult Education Career Navigator will work closely with employees by connecting them with academic and community support, so they can successfully finish the program.
How much does AO-K @ Work cost?
The Adult Education program provides academic instruction, career navigation services, customized curriculum development, and credential attainment costs through a grant from Walmart. Employers provide the training space and are encouraged to provide employee incentives for participation in the program.
Why should employees participate in AO-K @ Work?
AO-K @ Work is an investment in employees and their perception their company as their employer of choice. With improved basic and workplace skills, employees are better able to contribute in their jobs, thereby helping the organization meet its goals. Plus, well-trained employees can significantly reduce employer-related costs and turnover while becoming potential candidates for promotion. Employees gain basic skills that help them in the workplace and in their daily lives, helping them as they support themselves and their families.
Is the employer required to give paid release time?
The employer is not required to provide paid release time for their employees to attend classes but are encouraged to do so as one of the many options for incentives to participate and persist to completion.
Adult Education providers and businesses involved in the AO-K @ Work project are:
- Butler Community College Adult Education, El Dorado, KS – CINTAS, Union Rescue Mission Book Store, Holiday Inn Express, Mahaney Roofing, Martin Interconnect
- Colby Community College Adult Education, Colby, KS – Citizens Medical Center, Family Center for Health Care, Prairie Senior Residential Facility
- Dodge City Community College Adult Education, Dodge City, KS – Boot Hill Casino, United Wireless Arena
- Johnson County Community College Adult Education, Overland Park, KS – AdventHealth
- Kansas City Kansas Community College Adult Education, Kansas City, KS – Kansas City Steak Company, Central Solutions, Plastic Packaging
- Paola USD 368 Adult Education, Paola, KS – Circle C Café, Miami County Auto, Paola Inn and Suites, Dixon Contracting Services, Price Chopper
- Seward County Community College Adult Education, Liberal, KS – National Beef Packing Company
- Washburn Institute of Technology Adult Education, Topeka, KS – Topeka Capitol Plaza Hotel & Convention Center
To find out more information about AO-K @ Work, contact Hector Martinez, Kansas Board of Regents, at