Our History

Two visionaries
One remarkable vision

In 1979, Governor Pete duPont of Delaware faced the nation’s highest unemployment rate, highest income tax rate, and second-highest dropout rate. Businesses were leaving the state, and new companies weren’t replacing them. Working with co-founder Kenneth Smith, Governor duPont formed Jobs for Delaware’s Graduates to address the crisis, changing the lives of more than 100,000 Delaware youth.

As JAG grew nationally, Kenneth Smith served as President and CEO until passing the reigns to Janelle Duray in 2023, paving the way for a dynamic future. Today, the program born of one state’s challenges has expanded to impact more than 1.7 million youth nationally.

“Our young people cannot wait, the schools cannot wait, and our employers cannot wait. Let’s see if we can do something far more effective, far more accountable, and far more cost-effective for the poorest and most disadvantaged youth in our schools.”

Co-founder Governor Pete duPont

“Today is the best chance in our lifetimes for young people to secure good jobs with accelerated career pathways. We’re determined to seize that opportunity.”

Co-founder Kenneth Smith

Ken Smith Opening Ceremony