CHARLESTON, WV- Jobs for West Virginia Graduates (JWVG) and AT&T are working together to help raise the high school graduation rate and support career paths for underserved students. Because of its success in keeping kids in school, Jobs for West Virginia’s Graduates was one of 24 state affiliates selected to share in $3.5 million from AT&T. JWVG received $75,000.
The JAG program equips students to overcome obstacles to a high school diploma or High School Equivalency Test. The program does this through mentoring, academic support, links to social services, and other interventions. Students are guided into post-secondary education, entry-level jobs with pathways to successful careers or the military.
The organization will use approximately $60,000 from AT&T to launch new JWVG programs at Lincoln County High School and the Randolph County Career Technology Center, as well as to support the continuation of programs at Westside and Wyoming East High Schools and the Wyoming County Career Technology Center. The remaining $15,000 from AT&T is being used to sustain the organization’s work in Greenbrier County, according to JWVG Executive Director W. Brent Sturm.
Sturm said the support from AT&T was instrumental in JWVG receiving $130,000 in matching funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“Governor Justice and Secretary Thrasher have seen what Jobs for West Virginia’s Graduates’ staff and students can achieve when given just a little more help – help with academic remediation, help with navigating college financial aid, and often just general help with becoming and being an adult,” said Sturm. “With the support of The AT&T Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a terrific staff, and dedicated students, we were able to bring JWVG back from three schools to our current eleven. We believe that we can change the future of West Virginia, and we’re doing it one mortarboard at a time.”
Appalachian Regional Commission funding requires local matching dollars. The AT&T Foundation has provided the bulk of those funds for the JWVG programs in Lincoln, Randolph, and Wyoming counties. Each county Board of Education also contributes to the cost of the program. Donations from other corporations, civic organizations, local businesses and individuals provide most of the financial support for JWVG’s work.
“Helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in 21st century careers is a critical step to building the diverse workforce we need to power our company – and our country – for the future,” said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid-Atlantic. “JAG has a track record of success and this funding will allow them to provide even more students the opportunity to thrive.”
In 2016, JAG’s network of affiliates reported a 95% high school graduation rate, compared to the national graduation rate of 83% in 2015. Currently, the JAG model is offered in nearly 1,250 public high schools, community colleges, and alternative learning centers in 34 states.
Deirdre Cline, Superintendent, Wyoming County Schools recently wrote: “JWVG helps students in a myriad of ways and we believe it is an important piece of our dropout prevention efforts and our success in graduation rates.”
Sturm said Jobs for West Virginia’s Graduates is one of the highest performing affiliates of Jobs for America’s Graduates, the largest and most successful dropout prevention and school to work support program in the nation. JWVG has earned the prestigious “5 of 5” National Performance Standards Award for seven of the past ten years! The full-time Job Specialists assigned to each High School the program serves are held accountable not only for getting their students through high school to graduation, but also for getting them connected to the workforce and/or post-secondary education within twelve months of graduation.
In more than three decades of operation, JAG has helped more than 1.2 million young people nationwide stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities. The JAG Graduating Class of 2016 achieved 84% successful outcomes, meaning students were enrolled in post-secondary education, were employed, or some combination of the two within 12 months after they graduated from high school.
Since 2008, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have provided more than $11.4 million in funding to JAG and its local affiliates. This support is part of AT&T Aspire, which helps provide access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $400 million to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world.
About Jobs for America’s Graduates
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit youth development program committed to helping America’s most at-risk kids excel in high schools, prepare for success in college, and embark on a rewarding career. Since its inception in 1980, JAG has served over 1.2 million at-risk kids, and is currently serving over 57,000 students in 34 states. JAG students have a graduation rate of over 90 percent, and approximately 80 percent of those graduates go on to postsecondary education, military service and/or full-time employment.
About Philanthropy and Social Innovation at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. We have a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement, and address community needs. Our AT&T Aspire initiative uses innovation in education to drive student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $400 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.P