The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL), University of North Georgia (UNG) and Hall County Schools today announced a partnership to launch a three-year pilot program designed to significantly improve graduation rates for at-risk students.
They will implement the GDOL’s Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates (JGG) program at Johnson High School in Gainesville, and plan to expand throughout northeast Georgia. JGG is a highly successful school-to-career transition program for high school students who have personal and/or vocational barriers to entering higher education or employment.
“Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates has an exceptional record helping students throughout Georgia overcome various barriers to graduation and work,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “In the recent school year, 99.6 percent of our JGG students graduated, which is significantly higher than the overall statewide high school graduation rate of 78.8 percent. Partnerships like this are essential to financing JGG expansions, and we’re excited about the opportunity to replicate this level of success in northeast Georgia.”
JGG is a state affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, which had a 94 percent graduation rate for the Class of 2015. JGG includes classroom studies and community volunteer activities that provide pre-employment training, work skills, motivational activities and job development.
JGG’s mission is similar to that of the UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development (REED) Task Force – a partnership of more than 100 invited business, education, government and community leaders from northeast Georgia. The strategic goals of the REED Initiative focus on partnerships and collaboration, furthering access to education, and supporting the region’s workforce development.
“In many ways, UNG’s REED Initiative served as the catalyst for our participation in the JGG program,” said Dr. Richard Oates, vice president of the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville Campus. “JGG ties-in with UNG’s ongoing efforts to build collaborations and share successful community practices to increase educational attainment across the northeast Georgia region and strengthen the region's economy. As a JGG partner, UNG will provide classroom instruction and training that has the ability to impact up to 350 high-risk students within UNG’s county service area.”
Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County Schools, said, “The Hall County School Board of Education and I are excited to begin the Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates Program at Johnson High School this school year. We see this program as a great opportunity for students to transition into the real world of work. Upon graduation, students will have the academic, job ready and soft skills to be more prepared for success as productive employees.”
The three-year pilot program will be partially funded by a $30,000 grant from AT&T.
“Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and Commissioner Butler’s leadership has been essential to developing opportunities for Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates to help students in Hall County graduate and foster the critical skills they need to succeed in 21st century jobs,” said Bill Leahy, president AT&T Georgia. “We are proud to support this vital program, and we appreciate the opportunity offered by Commissioner Butler, University of North Georgia and Hall County Schools to engage in helping students in the county to reach their full potential.”
The financial support from AT&T comes from the company’s ongoing national support of JAG. Over the last four years, AT&T has contributed more than $2 million, which is awarded to state affiliates to support local JAG programs. AT&T has provided an additional $250,000 to support JAG’s national operation and events over the past several years.
“As a company that is committed to ensuring that their investments result in real, positive outcomes for the students within the communities they serve, AT&T has partnered with JAG in Georgia and across the country to impact thousands of students, so they may have opportunities to be successful in high school and beyond,” said JAG’s Senior Vice President Janelle Duray. “Not only financially, but also through volunteering employee time to provide mentoring opportunities to our JAG students. This investment to launch Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates in Gainesville is one example of the many communities that have been positively impacted by AT&T’s investment in our children and our future.”
The three partners will pay the remainder of the $593,000 three-year operating budget for the JGG pilot. The GDOL will contribute $453,000, the UNG will contribute $60,000 and Hall County Schools will contribute $50,000.
There are 21 other high schools with JGG chapters in Georgia. Two of them, Dawson County and Stephens County high schools, will become a part of the new partnership,