Whence We Came...
educational needs assessment conducted for the City of Concord
in 1970 revealed that Concord was in need of a comprehensive
adult education program. According to the 1970 Census, 42%
of Merrimack County's adult population had not finished high
school. In response, two educators, Ruth Hooke and Nancy Callahan,
took up the challenge. After several months, they were able
to secure small grants from the Spaulding Potter Trust and
the State Department of Adult Basic Education.
$4,000, two part-time staff members, a babysitter, and a handful
of volunteers, they opened the doors of Second Start in the
basement of the First Congregational Church in February of
1971. The program operated two mornings a week providing instruction
in basic reading, writing, math, and life-coping skills.
September 1971, the childcare program was licensed by the
State as a daycare provider. In September 1972 one part-time
business teacher was hired, and with two donated typewriters,
the clerical training program began to provide adults with
Development in the Seventies
1974 Second Start was awarded a federal grant from the U.S.
Department of Education to further develop literacy programs.
The first full-time staff was hired and the scope of the agency's
program outgrew the facilities of the First Congregational
Church and in the spring of 1975 moved to the recently vacated
West Concord Firehouse.
First Half of the Eighties (1980-1985)
the spring of 1980, the Adult Basic Education, Office Skills
Training, and Daycare Programs moved to the Walker Building
on the New Hampshire Hospital grounds. This move made possible
the expansion of the daycare program from 15 children part-time
to 55 children full-time.
support services for welfare mothers were added, as well as
English as a Second Language classes to serve the influx of
Asian refugees, and a volunteer tutorial program.
of 1984 saw the addition of the Transition & Employment
Training Program designed for adolescents who have been unsuccessful
in finding and maintaining employment. A substance abuse program
was also added for adolescents who are experiencing drug and
alcohol problems or are from families where drug and alcohol
abuse is a problem.
1986 Second Start was cited by the United States Department
of Education as an outstanding example of excellence in Adult
1987, over 1,800 children and adults were served by Second
Start negotiated a sale with the Concord School Board (May,
1987 to January,1988) for the purchase of the Garrison School
for nominal consideration.
City of Concord applied for and was awarded, on Second Start's
behalf, two Community Development Block Grants from the Office
of State Planning in 1987 & 1988 in the amount of $231,000
to assist with these renovation projects.
Board of Directors conducted Second Start's first ever Capital
Campaign in the spring of 1988 and raised approximately $600,000
from the Greater Concord community and $100,000 from private
Adult Education Office and Training and Childcare programs
moved from the Walker Building to the newly renovated Garrison
building in time for September classes. The Daycare was expanded
to over 100 children and the space provided much improved
classrooms for Adult Education.
Start in the Nineties...
1990 Second Start's Adult Literacy program was recognized
by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the ten best
literacy programs in the country. The agency name was changed
from Project Second Start to Second Start because
we no longer felt we could be described as a project.
1994 Second Start was able to upgrade its instructional computers
in the Office Program with $15,000 from private foundations.
The placement rate of the Office Program was 100% of completers
for the second year in a row.
Start again received the Secretary of Education's Award for
Outstanding Adult Education and Literacy Programs in September
1996. September 1996 also marked the beginning of Second Start's
25th year of service to the Greater Concord community.
the Fall of 1997 the Office Program began the huge task of
becoming an accredited program for Title IV government funds.
This would enable our clients to use federal student financial
aid to attend the program. In August of 1998, the office program
was accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education
and Training. (ACCET). In August of 1999 the Office Program
received full accreditation from the Department of Education
to administer federal financial aid (Title IV) money.
the Spring of 1998, Second Start was awarded a statewide contract
to provide intense employment counseling services to welfare
recipients. This program was based on a model that was being
used at Second Start on a smaller scale only in Merrimack
County since 1993. The program expanded to serve the communities
of Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Salem, Plymouth, Littleton,
Colebrook Keene, Claremont, Lebanon, Conway, Berlin, Rochester/Dover
Start's Student Assistance program grew in 1998 to include
drug, alcohol and violence prevention services at the elementary
Start in the New Millennium
2001, the ESL population for both day and evening classes
almost doubled. Also, the agency implemented a major technology
upgrade with the purchase of 92 new and upgraded PCs and the
installation of its first Local Area Network connecting both
its buildings. A Capital Campaign from businesses and individuals
if finishing up to pay for the computer network at a cost
of approximately $225,00.
2002, the Alternative High School was re-certified by the
NH Department of Education as a Special Education Program
for three years. The number of individuals served in the statewide
Step by Step Career Guidance program and English as a Second
Language program continued to increase. The first annual report
to the community is published.
saw the addition of a College Transition Program for adults.
This program is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation
and is aimed at preparing adults for success in post secondary
major development in 2004 was the transformation of The Office
Program to the New Hampshire Career Institute. Part of this
transformation was the relocation of the program to a new
facility at 130 Pembroke Road and a shift in curriculum to
focus on healthcare related office training. The program offers
training in Administrative Support, Medical Billing and Coding
and Medical Assisting. Also in 2004, the contract with the
State for the Step by Step Career Guidance program ended and
a new program called Working Futures was created in its place.
The goal of Working Futures is to assist individuals in the
move from public assistance to self-sufficiency. Working Futures
has ten sites in the State of NH.
2005 the Alternative High School received 5 years of program
approval as a special education program for adolescents. Seventy-five
percent of the Alternative High students either retuned for
another year of school or graduated.
saw the addition of the Hopkinton Middle and High School to
the other schools served by the Student Assistance Program
2007 the Working Futures program, in collaboration with the
State of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services,
redesigned program content to meet the federal TANF reauthorization
guidelines and to afford statewide TANF recipients the training
and skills so necessary to succeed in the today's job market.
Hampshire Career Institute graduated their final student cohort
with the graduate and placement rates well above the established
national benchmarks for career training schools.
our community becomes more culturally diverse, the need for
English instruction has increased, and in 2008 Second Start's
outreach efforts expanded to include satellite programs across
Concord. Additionally, The English for Speakers of Other Languages
(ESOL) services were extended to include new partnerships
with private sector business to bring ESOL classes to the
workplace and enrollment in the Adult Learner Services Tutorial
Program increased significantly.
a rise in referrals and new programming, enrollment in the
Working Futures Program increased significantly across our
eleven locations statewide, providing career development skills
to welfare recipients. Conway, Laconia and Berlin offices
were relocated and new offices were opened in Keene and Littleton.
successful fundraising campaign in 2009 enabled Second Start
to complete sorely needed upgrades to its computer systems
and hardware, enabling each of our programs to provide cutting
edge technology to our participants while enhancing our curriculum
and teaching modalities.
2010 with the support of the New Hampshire Community Development
Finance Authority (CDFA) Community Development Investment
Program, the City of Concord Community Development Block Grant
monies and the generous support of many dedicated corporate
and business leaders, Second Start launched the Energy Improvement
Initiative - a blueprint for a building improvement plan that
will allow us to manage our energy use more strategically
and save money.
2011, Second Start completed the energy improvement renovations
that help us to manage our energy use more strategically and
save money. Improvements such as new multiple pane low-E glass
windows and added insulation throughout our buildings, installation
of energy-efficient lighting and Energy Start appliances,
and a new furnace and baseboard forced hot water heating units
served to reduce operating costs and improve energy efficiency.
Additionally the children's center playground surfaces and
subsurface drainage systems were removed and restored.