Governor Sam Brownback on September 23, 2015 visited Turner High School in Kansas City, Kansas, to herald a program that prepares at-risk youth for postsecondary education and employment. The Governor met with participants in Jobs for America’s Graduates–Kansas (JAG-K) at Turner High to see how the program teaches job and life skills to at-risk middle and high school students and counsels them in career and education paths.
“The JAG program has a profound effect on the students who participate in it,” Governor Brownback said. “These students are learning what they need to do to succeed academically and personally, and they are gaining valuable skills to help them build a positive future.”
The Governor brought JAG to the state in January 2013. The program helps at-risk students graduate from high school, obtain a GED, pursue postsecondary education and find entry-level jobs with growth potential. Currently, the JAG-Kansas program serves approximately 3,400 students in 28 school districts statewide.
Michelle Karanu, a recent Wichita North High School graduate who came to the United States from Kenya in 2013, found the JAG program instrumental in helping her navigate high school and pursue her dreams.
“I saw the goals of the other students were in line with what I wanted in life, and I knew it could help me achieve my goals,” Karanu said.
Since graduation, Karanu joined the Army National Guard because it assisted her in obtaining citizenship and helped pay for college at the University of Kansas.
“JAG helped me adjust to the American system and put me in touch with adults who really care and who know how to help me,” she said.
The nationwide JAG program has existed for 32 years and served more than one million students in 32 states. Ken Smith, the national president of JAG, thanked the Governor during the Turner High visit for his role in bringing the program to Kansas.
“The Governor deserves a great deal of credit for making the commitment to bring JAG to Kansas, as does the team at JAG, for delivering on the promise of academic and economic success,” said Smith.
“The JAG Board of Directors of JAG, including 10 Governors, is delighted to present to JAG- Kansas our most demanding recognition—the “5-of-5” National Performance Award. JAG-K has exceeded 90 percent graduation rates and nearly doubled the rate they enroll in higher education.”
Since its launch in Kansas, JAG-Kansas has seen 71 percent of its participants obtain employment following graduation, and 87 percent have shown “positive outcomes” (meaning they were employed, attending post secondary educational institutions or both).
Mike Scott, President of AT&T Kansas, took advantage of the gathering at Turner High to announce AT&T support for JAG-K and the national JAG program.
“Jobs for America’s Graduates and its state organizations are top shelf,” Scott said. “AT&T has worked with JAG for several years on the national level as part of our Aspire program, which is our signature education initiative. Investing in a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing we can do to support a strong global economy, and that is why AT&T is committed to supporting the JAG program.”
JAG-K is currently in 61 schools within 28 school districts across Kansas including Atchison, KCK, Kansas City Turner, Basehor-Linwood, Lawrence, Topeka, Royal Valley, Salina, Concordia, Hutchinson, Wichita, Arkansas City, Pittsburg, Newton, Parsons, Labette County, Geary County, Liberal, Garden City, Stafford, Kiowa County, Dodge City, Holcomb, Pratt, Kingman-Norwich, Coffeyville, El Dorado, and Emporia.
JAG uniquely monitors students for one full year beyond their senior year, continuing to support the student in enrolling in post-secondary education, finding employment, and if they didn’t graduate on time, working on getting their high school diploma or its equivalent.
JAG-Kansas, Inc. operates as a non-profit organization, led by Matt Fearing, President/CEO, and in partnership with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas State Department of Education. Funding for the program primarily derives from a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant through DCF.
The program receives additional support by the JAG-Kansas, Inc. Board of Directors, Seaboard Foods, Archer Daniels Midland, John Deere Foundation, Kansas National Guard, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, as well as AT&T.