Louisville, Kentucky. Thursday, November 12, 2015 – Some Jefferson County high school students attending The Academy @ Shawnee in West Louisville are earning their pilot’s licenses, working on experiments that will be flown into space, or preparing to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. Others are at risk of dropping out. But with a 2014-15 graduation rate of 72.5 percent and nearly 80 percent of the students from lower-income families, additional resources to help students take advantage of opportunities available at the aviation and engineering magnet school can make a significant difference.
Jobs for Kentucky’s Graduates (JKG) and Integrity Staffing Solutions are working together to ensure more students graduate from Shawnee college and workforce ready. JKG has received $30,000 in funding from Integrity Staffing and $5,000 from GE to allow the non-profit to add new programming to serve 35-45 Shawnee students who have high barriers to learning.
JKG is one of 32 state affiliates of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) national nonprofit. The program is designed to help underserved students overcome obstacles to graduation and career success through mentoring, tutoring, academic support, engagement with employers, and links to social services, among other interventions. Once they earn a high school diploma or General Educational Diploma, JKG mentors work with the students for 12 additional months to ensure they transition successfully into post-secondary education, entry-level careers or the military.
“Every student matters at Shawnee, and we have programs and opportunities to engage and challenge students to achieve high academic goals,” said Principal Venita Benboe. “This program is another critical tool we now will have available to help our students see what’s possible, and obtain the guidance, experiences and support they need to reach their dreams.”
“At Integrity Staffing, we are seeking individuals who come to the interview with the skills that are in high demand by our clients,” said Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Integrity Staffing, Todd Bavol. “We have found that the skills students learn in Jobs for America’s Graduates are precisely the skills our clients are seeking. We are delighted to expand our partnership with JAG through this grant to Shawnee Academy in order to bring Jobs for Kentucky’s Graduates to Louisville. Partnerships like these help us drive our mission of generating opportunities for people to exceed their own expectations and to advance careers and communities.”
JKG, launched in Kentucky in 1993, is already available in schools in Paducah, Inez, Paris, Bowling Green, Danville and Irvine.
In 2014, JAG’s network of affiliates reported a 93 percent high school graduation rate, compared to the national graduation rate of 81 percent. Currently, the JAG model is offered in nearly 1,000 public high schools, community colleges, and alternative learning centers in 32 states.
“JKG programs have a 97 percent graduation rate while preparing students for entry-level and mid-entry-level positions everyday, which is why JAG employers across the country have a 97 percent satisfaction rate when it comes to JAG employees,” said JKG’s CEO and President, Larry Caruso. ”Part of the JAG program includes the teacher staying engaged with the graduates for 12 months after graduation to ensure the kids transition sccessfully in postsecondary education, the job market or into the military. For the most recent year, 88 percent of JKG graduates were positively engaged with 46 percent having completed one year of post secondary ed. This is why the marriage between The Academy @ Shawnee, Integrity Staffing, GE and JKG makes so much sense. We thank Integrity Staffing and GE for investing in Louisville’s youth, and JCPS for its willingness to bring JKG to Louisville students.”
In more than three decades of operation, JAG has helped more than one million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.
Since 2014, Integrity Staffing and JAG have partnered in Wilmington, DE; Indianapolis, IN; Reno, NV; Phoenix, AZ; and Louisville, KY to provide programming for students who are interested in entering the workforce immediately after they graduate from high school. These positions offer higher-than-minimum wage earnings and provide pathways to management opportunities, enabling students to start their career pathways on the right foot.
 Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, Annual Update February 2013.