Participant Handbook

How will participating in Ascending Lights benefit me?

Ascending Lights exists to help you become a better volunteer leader in your church community. We will also help you prepare for full time employment in a good job, help you get ready to transfer to a four-year university, help you develop strong life skills, help you meet your leadership potential, and help you deepen your relationship to God and your church.

Ascending Lights has goals for each participant in four primary areas. It is very important for you to understand what Ascending Lights will do to help you in each of these areas, and to recognize what Ascending Lights expects you to accomplish in each of these areas.

How does the academic aspect of Ascending Lights work?


We expect that you will value education, doing your best in each class and making the best progress possible toward completing an academic program.

Ascending Lights will pay for specific costs associated with earning a Certificate of Completion or an Associate’s Degree in a career program offered at your college. These include:

  1. Tuition for courses required by your college to obtain a certificate or degree in an approved technical or paraprofessional field and for elective courses required by Ascending Lights.
  2. All fees charged by your college.
  3. Books required for courses approved by Ascending Lights and taken at your college.
  4. Tools required to be purchased in conjunction with approved courses.
  5. Bus fare to and from your college or equivalent car allowance.
  6. Meals purchased by you on school days from your college cafeteria or snack bar.
  7. Ascending Lights will lend you a state-of-the-art and internet-ready computer to use for your coursework while you are in good standing in our program. You will return the computer to Ascending Lights when requested. You will be responsible for the cost of any virus removal if those viruses enter the computer as a result of your installing or downloading unauthorized software or utilities. Norton AntiVirus is provided with all computers. However, this is not a guarantee against virus infection. You will inform us when your Norton subscription needs to be renewed.

Your benefits will be completed when you have earned an Associate’s Degree or a Certificate of Completion in your chosen field from your college. The costs of taking additional courses required for any other certificate may not be eligible for payment by Ascending Lights.

What does Ascending Lights expect of me?

We expect that you will:

  1. Complete all tasks required by your college for vocational and academic assessment.
  2. Attend all counseling interviews recommended by your college or Ascending Lights.
  3. Have all courses you take at your college approved in advance by Ascending Lights.
  4. Meet in person with your mentor at least once each week.
  5. Apply for a Board of Governor’s Grant (Fee Waiver) each year.
  6. Serve as a mentor or volunteer leader in your church upon completion of your education at your college for at least three years.
  7. Comply with all reasonable requests made of you by your pastor, mentor, or other Ascending Lights staff.
  8. Attend all classes and maintain a 2.0 or better grade point average in every semester.
  9. Make satisfactory progress each year toward completion of your academic program by completing at least twelve semester units in any twelve months.
  10. Do your best to obtain the best grades possible in all of your courses. As a steward of this great gift from God to you, your dedication to success in college must always match the generosity of those who worked hard to earn the money to sponsor you.

What kind of programs are offered at my community college?

Administration of Justice
Architectural Technology
Business Management
Child Development
Community Development
Human Services/Drug Counseling
Office Management
Fashion & Visual Merchandising

Dental Technician
Dietetic Technician
Electrocardiograph Technician
Health Information Technology
Medical Assisting
Nursing, RN & LVN
Radiological Technology
Respiratory Therapy

Cable Television Technology
Chemical & Lab Technology
Computer Information Systems
Computer Electronics Technician
Electronic Communications
Electronics Engineering
Microcomputer Technology
Microsoft & Cisco Certifications
Web Design/Digital Art

Commercial and Digital Art
Culinary Arts
Baking, Professional
Fashion Design

Engineering Drafting
Machine Shop
Mechanical Engineering
Tool Design

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
Cabinetmaking & Carpentry
Electrical Construction
Structural Steel Detailing
Welding – Gas & Electric

Automotive Mechanics & Repair
Motorcycle Repair Mechanics
Truck & Heavy Equipment Repair

How long will it take me to complete the program at the college?

If you go to school full-time and take summers off, most programs will take you at least three years to complete. If you go to school part-time, or need to repeat classes, it will take you longer.

As part of the application process, you will take two excellent career assessment tests. Your mentor will go over the results with you. Your college also has a career counseling center. You can use the services offered by this center to help choose the best possible career for yourself. The center will also help you assess your present academic skills. 

What if I have not yet decided what kind of career to pursue?

How does the leadership aspect of Ascending Lights work?

We expect that you will become the most effective leader you can be. Ascending Lights will provide Leadership Training on four Saturdays each year. We will give you the dates, times, and locations well in advance. In addition, your mentor will give you valuable advice about and a strong example of Christian leadership.

Ascending Lights expects that you will:

  1. Attend all Leadership Training events, and take responsibility for making sure that you have arranged you transportation well in advance. You will plan to attend the entire Leadership Training event, which is generally from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. If there is any challenge to your attendance that you are not able to resolve, you will request an excused absence, tardiness, or early departure no later than Noon on the Friday one week before the event. Your request will include an explanation of the serious problem which would occur if you attended Leadership Training, and an explanation of why you have been unable to resolve the situation. Only a medical emergency will be legitimate reasons for you to miss any part of a Leadership Training event without advance notice.
  2. Participate as a leader in at least one group.
  3. Seek direction from God.
  4. Complete college English, speech, and basic computer courses.
  5. Communicate effectively with instructors, students, family members, friends, church members, co-workers, and mentors.
  6. Inspire confidence from others.
  7. Maintain a balanced perspective.
  8. Learn how to help others using our Road Map to Success Academic Planning Tool.
    You will work with your mentor to understand this tool for your own academic planning, as well as offer to teach others to use this tool in order to facilitate their Community College success.
    Additionally, you will attend a special seminar around the time of your graduation in which you will be given formal training in order to better understand the multiple Road Map to Success pathways.

How does the life skills aspect of Ascending Lights work?

We expect that you will develop the strongest possible habits and skills in your occupational and family lives.

Ascending Lights will work with you to help you develop a basic understanding of your personality and career preferences. In addition, your mentor will give you valuable advice about and a strong example of habits and skills in occupational and family life.

Ascending Lights expects that you will:

  1. Meet in person with your mentor at least once each week.
  2. Return all telephone calls from your mentor, pastor, or other Ascending Lights Staff within 24 hours.
  3. Meet promptly with your mentor, pastor, or other Ascending Lights staff when requested.
  4. Arrive on time prepared to work.
  5. Follow through on commitments.
  6. Hold a job.
  7. Set and implement personal priorities.
  8. Set goals and accomplish them.
  9. Communicate your needs and desires effectively to your family members, work supervisors, and mentors. Ask for help when you need it.
  10. Develop healthy boundaries and limits with family members, friends, church members, and co-workers.
  11. Manage your physical and medical needs.
  12. Address any behavioral dependencies or addictions.
  13. Research potential career choices as you need.
  14. Apply for naturalization while attending college if you are not a US citizen.

How does the spiritual aspect of Ascending Lights work? 

Fourth, we expect that you will develop the deepest possible faith and relationship to God through Christ.

Ascending Lights will work with you and your church to help you find ways to participate in worship and Christian service, seek discernment and direction, and continue to grow spiritually. 

Ascending Lights expects that you will:

  1. Identify primary ways of relating to God and pursues these further.
  2. Participate in available spiritual formation opportunities.
  3. Spend time in prayer and Bible reading each day.
  4. Participate in worship in your Christian community at least once each week.
  5. Perform at least 4 hours of Christian service each month.
  6. Serve as a mentor or volunteer leader in your church upon completion of your education at your college for at least three years.
  7. Seek discernment and direction.
  8. Be a strong Christian role model for others in your church.

There are certain behaviors which do not set a good Christian example for others. Engaging in these activities will subject you to having your participation in Ascending Lights terminated.

  1. Conviction of a felony.
  2. Use of illegal drugs.
  3. Public intoxication.
  4. Foul or blasphemous language.
  5. Disrespectful behavior toward your pastor, mentor, or other Ascending Lights staff.
  6. Carrying a lethal weapon.
  7. Sex outside of marriage and/or cohabitation.

How do I demonstrate financial need?

You must meet one of the financial need criteria below:

  • Independent and receiving TANF, SSI, or General Relief; or
  • Dependent with parents receiving TANF, SSI, or General Relief; or
  • Have a gross annual family income in one of the following ranges:

Single person living independently: $26,730
2 Person family: $36,045
3 Person family: $45,360
4 Person family: $54,675
(Add $9,360 for each additional family member)

  • Exceptions to these criteria are possible on a case-by-case basis

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