A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jobs for America’s Graduates in Kentucky celebrated with ‘Five of Five’ award, 100% graduation rate

Gov. Matt Bevin recognized Jobs for America’s Graduates – Kentucky (JAG KY) for its growth and outstanding student outcomes by presenting the organization with the prestigious “Five of Five” award.

The award recognizes the JAG KY program for achievement in five performance outcome areas, including achieving a 100 percent graduation rate for the Class of 2017. While the organization’s metrics are extremely impressive, it is the youth behind those numbers that represent true success, according to Gov. Bevin.

“I am pleased to present JAG Kentucky with the ‘Five of Five’ award in recognition of their unwavering commitment to providing Kentucky youth with the hard and soft skills required to graduate high school and succeed in the workforce,” said Gov Bevin. “JAG Kentucky has invested nearly $1 million in Kentucky schools to prepare the next generation of student leaders. The program’s impressive outcomes, including a 100 percent high school graduation rate among participants, prove that their model is working incredibly well. Not only is helping these young people the right thing to do, but every person and business in Kentucky is better as a result.”

JAG students

Gov. Bevin presented the award alongside JAG President & CEO Ken Smith. The award is the highest National Performance Award from Jobs for America’s Graduates programs, and JAG KY has earned the “Five of Five” award for three consecutive years.

In order to qualify for the award, JAG KY surpassed established goals in five categories, with the Class of 2017 having a 100 percent graduation rate, an 85.5 percent positive outcomes rate, a 68.8 percent employment rate, a 71.2 percent full-time jobs rate and an 87.6 percent full-time placement rate (placement in postsecondary education, employment, military or a combination).

Lester Diaz, Principal of Frederick Douglas High School in Lexington spoke about the success of the program.

“The JAG program at Frederick Douglas High School is a difference-making, culture changing and life-altering program that teaches kids employability skills and tracks their progress through high school and after,” said Diaz. 

“We have a 100 percent JAG graduation rate at Douglass, and our kids have developed self-esteem, core work values and a sense of pride.”
 
One of the JAG Kentucky program participants, Elijah Durham-Walker, spoke at the press conference about his experience in the program. Elijah endured a period of homelessness before joining the program at the recommendation of JAG Specialist Bill Crockett.

“Elijah literally slept on park benches and tried to find warmth inside restrooms,” Crockett said. “Most of Elijah’s efforts during this time centered upon basic survival, and career aspirations held no meaning in his world. Today Elijah proudly embodies every quality that JAG KY represents.”

Students at Frederick Douglas High School

Elijah credits his turnaround to the JAG KY program. He currently serves as president of JAG KY Clay ATC, and he claimed individual accolades in competitive events last year at the JAG KY Career Development Conference, placing first in job interview, first in essay, and second in community service.

This semester alone, JAG KY will serve over 1400 youth through 37 programs. With plans to open 13 additional programs in January 2019, JAG KY will serve students in 50 programs throughout the Commonwealth.

JAG KY Board Chairman Larry Caruso stated, “The board’s goal is to serve even more students moving forward, and we will meet this goal through the support of public-private partnerships.” 

The goal is quickly becoming a reality for the program, as JAG KY President Lisa Handziak announced today the addition of 18 new programs this fall.
 
“With funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, our partnership with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the AT&T Foundation, we were able to expand to 37 programs this fall and create new initiatives serving foster youth and students with significant barriers to graduation,” said Handziak. 

The grant provided by AT&T to help expand the JAG program is part of the company’s Aspire Program, which brings together AT&T employees, nonprofits and community members to help equip students with the skills they need to lead in the digital, global economy. 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment