CO-OP Center’s “Learn and Earn” Program Recognizes Achievement



Contact: Dan Braccio, Director of CO-OP Center

203 367-8441 x 231 or

CO-OP Center received a grant this summer from the Watkinson Prisoners’ Aid Society of West Hartford to support its burgeoning GED preparation program.

The grant allowed CO-OP Center Program Director Dan Braccio to create the Learn and Earn project, an incentive program that recognizes individual achievement. “We are not paying students to come to school,” Braccio said. “This program sets standards that need to be met. Upon achieving those goals, students are given a small monetary incentive to keep them engaged with the GED preparation process.”

Charles Rosenthal, the GED instructor, developed the rewards benchmarks that students need to achieve. There are incentives for attendance at 30 and 100 hours and for each additional 50 hours above the first 100 hours. Also, there are incentives for students who increase their CASAS scores by a full level. CASAS, Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems, is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on assessment and curriculum development of basic skills for youth and adults. CASAS is used by federal and state government agencies, business and industry, community colleges, education and training providers, correctional facilities, and technical programs.

“For most of our students, advancing from one CASAS level to the next is a big accomplishment,” said Charles Rosenthal. Dan Braccio said, “It happens most often that a student who begins their GED preparation will leave as soon as part-time employment comes along. This is usually short lived and really sets them back. Having an incentive program creates a way to keep them focused.”

The program, now in its third month, seems to be working. More students have attended GED classes, which meet four times a week, more regularly. Several students receive Learn and Earn rewards each month which are given out on the first Friday of the month. Brian Kleusner (pictured here) received the top Learn and Earn incentive when he successfully passed his GED exam in September 2011.

Charles Rosenthal sees continued progress in the students’ math and reading scores. Moreover, he sees students taking on an improved attitude towards learning. This is important as some of the students have “a very long road ahead of them”, he said.

The GED program at CO-OP Center, which is funded by a grant obtained by Career Resources, Inc., is the only GED preparation program specifically for former offenders funded by the state Department of Education.

If you would like to make a contribution to our Learn and Earn project, or if you have several hours per week to volunteer as a math or reading aide to Mr. Rosenthal, please contact Dan Braccio at 203 367-8441 x 231 or



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