Helms College is an institution of higher education that provides a unique approach to experiential learning and career education. Named in honor of Rev. Edgar Helms, the founder of Goodwill Industries, Helms College creates opportunities for students to discover their strengths and build upon their knowledge, skills, and attitudes through extensive integrative and experiential learning. With a focus on asset development rather than deficit management, Helms College is designed to ensure that students receive the education and training they need to advance their career and access the American Dream. Intensive career advisement and academic support empowers students to obtain stackable credentials and launch careers in high demand occupations.
The College—envisioned and developed by Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia, Inc., which was founded in 1975 to serve individuals with disabilities and other special needs—offers two campuses: one in Middle Georgia, and one in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA).
Key moments in the College’s history/timeline include:
1995: The first Job Connection office opens in Macon, where anyone with a barrier to employment could receive career counseling and job placement assistance.
1996: Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia, Inc., expands into Augusta, Georgia, and Aiken, South Carolina, increasing the number of service counties to 35 to become Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA have been recognized with numerous international awards and represent one of the fastest-growing Goodwill organizations in the world.
2006: The Polly Long Denton School of Hospitality is created. Polly, who had a passion for culinary arts and studied to be a professional chef at Maxim’s in Paris, France, served on Goodwill’s Hospitality Advisory Council in Macon. When she passed away, her family and friends provided a philanthropic naming gift in her memory to establish the School.
2007: Helms Career Institute and the Polly’s Hospitality Institute (the Macon Campus culinary school at Helms Career Institute) are established, with the sole focus of creating an educational model for Goodwill Industries that provides skills training in the culinary arts, medical/health, automotive technology, construction, and other occupational areas that lead to middle skills careers and a path out of poverty.
2011: Helms receives national accreditation by ACCET in 2011.
2012: As a result of continued growth, a solid curriculum, and a caring and dedicated faculty, the school is elevated to degree-granting level and renamed Helms College, with the Polly Long Denton School of Hospitality in Macon and the School of Hospitality in Augusta.
2012: Helms College adds a second campus in Augusta, the heart of the CSRA. Set in a beautiful campus that includes Edgar’s Grille and the Snelling Center, both business enterprises support Helms College’s culinary programs. The Augusta campus is the first to offer evening programs to complement the busy schedules of working students.
2014: Helms College receives approval for Associate Degree programs in Culinary Arts for its Macon Campus, and adds Associate Degree programs at the Augusta Campus in 2015.
2016: Helms College opens the School of Health Services on its Augusta Campus and receives approval for Diploma programs in Patient Care Technician, Multi-Skilled Medical Assistant, and Medical Administrative Assistant.
2016: An agreement with Johnson and Wales University, along with a 2014 agreement with the Art Institute, allows students to earn an Associate Degree at more affordable rates at Helms College and complete their Bachelor’s Degree at any of the four campuses of Johnson and Wales University, or at any one of five Art Institute campuses in the Southeast.
The Future at Helms College:
• Additional programs and schools to be added: School of Business and Technology, School of Industrial Trades
• Development of high-demand occupation middle-skills education programs for 2020 and beyond that change lives, families, and communities—one career at a time
• Additional campuses within Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia’s 35-county service delivery area in Georgia and South Carolina, as well as around the globe