Thirty-five years ago, then-Governor Pete du Pont started Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG) as a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who were most at-risk and preparing those students to transition from school to work. Today, the JDG program has been adopted in 33 states as part of what is now known as the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) network, currently chaired by Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell.
Just last year, Jobs for Delaware Graduates served nearly 3,000 students in twenty-three high schools throughout the state. Those students experienced a 93% graduation rate, a return to school rate of 90% and a competency completion rate of 81%. These statistics are all the more compelling as JDG students typically come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, face personal or family problems, underperform academically and lack the requisite job skills needed to find good and suitable employment.
Since its inception 35 years ago, JDG has partnered with the James H. Groves High School to provide services to out-of-school youth in a classroom setting and with the U.S. Department of Labor to provide individualized services to out-of-school youth from Kent and Sussex counties. More recently, JDG piloted a middle school program to provide 7th and 8th graders with the leadership skills to effect positive behavior, improve academic achievement and, ultimately, to ensure each student a successful transition to high school. Over the years, JDG has made a measureable difference in the lives of more than 42,000 young people in the state.
At the national level, Jobs for America’s Graduates has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities. Just as in Delaware, the JAG graduation rate was 93% and 77% of the students successfully transitioned to a job, college, or some combination. While the job placement rate was 55%, particularly important is the fact that nearly 70% were working full time – more than three times as many as young adults in general and more than 3-4 times as many for disadvantaged, disconnected, and minority youth.
During its 35 years of operation, the Jobs for Delaware track record has been remarkable, and the national track record is equally as impressive. Year after year, JAG affiliates across the United States have consistently delivered graduation rates that are 90% or higher. The fact that JAG currently serves some of our most challenged young people make those results all the more impressive. And while the numbers tell a great story, the personal experiences of JDG students and graduates are even more compelling.
As a state and as a nation, we need to figure out what works, and do more of it. What we have discovered over the past 35 years is that Jobs for Delaware Graduates does work. Its success has been demonstrable and measurable. We should do more of it.
To learn more about JDG and JAG, just go to www.jobsdegrads.org and www.jag.org respectively. To purchase tickets for Delaware Graduates’ 35th Anniversary event, please visit the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.ncccc.com.