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In Conversation with Rhea Henry


Lets begin with this: how do you describe hope, Rhea?

Manchester Bidwell is the embodiment of hope for many of our students. Hope is such an abstract concept, but here students can make it concrete. For me, hope is knowing that there are no limitations on your potential. It is the promise that we are all assets at our core.


How does MBC do this?

At Manchester Bidwell Corporation, we invest in our students so they can invest in themselves. We provide barrier-free access to education, and this is true for both workforce training and youth development. I think MBC acts as a mirror; we are with our students every step of the way. Over time our students start to see the promise in themselves that we knew they had from day one.


How does NCAT assist other communities to get to where we are?

NCAT does not necessarily assist communities to get where we are, but rather where they need to be for their community. All the communities that have implemented the MBC model have some commonality but are mostly unique. I think what we assist communities in doing is brokering relationships. People and institutions tend to operate in silos, and that lack of communication has had a detrimental impact on many of these communities. NCAT works to foster collaboration amongst all community stakeholders, as that is the only way for individuals to achieve economic security and social mobility.


So how do we export what we do at MBC?

We don’t. I think the idea that we can “export” what we do to other communities is deeply impersonal and manufactured. Manchester Bidwell Corporation is not a franchise–the culture, history, and internal dynamics of a community are important. “Exportation” ignores those aspects. I think what we do when we engage with communities is impart our operating culture and values.


How is the MBC Model different than other post-secondary education options?

With the exception of post-secondary technical education schools, the only other option available to individuals looking to further their education is a traditional college or university. Many of our students have tried the traditional degree attainment route and have not had much success. What the MBC model offers that makes it unique is rigorous and innovative job training. We don’t train students for a hypothetical range of careers. We offer efficient industry driven training, where employer partners are central to all aspects of our programs.


Manchester Bidwell Corporation has been a regional name in job training and youth arts development for decades. Since its inception, many communities throughout the country and internationally have implemented the MBC model. The organization that is responsible for working with communities to implement this model is the National Center for Arts & Technology (NCAT). NCAT is an affiliate of Manchester Bidwell Corporation that exclusively works with communities to promote workforce development, youth development, and most importantly, social cohesion. We interviewed NCAT’s Community Development Specialist Rhea Henry to get a better understanding of NCAT’s work in communities.

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