The first annual Jobs for America’s graduates in South Carolina(JAG-SC) Careet Development Conference was held in Columbia recently. The high school dropout prevention program is operating in 20 schools across the state.
Last year, the program graduated its first class of students. Next fall the program will be expanded into six more schools, pending funding approvals.
Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor says it would be a good idea for every school in the state. He’s excited about the program.
Last year JAG-SC served approximately 800 youth with a return-to-school rate of 97 percent. Students continued to decrease their rate of absences and increase their GPAs.
Taylor says the program’s graduation rate was 94 percent. He says money is not the answer to everything, and the secret behind JAG is involvement.
(Taylor talks to Ashley Byrd about JAG MP3 8:40)
Taylor talks to Ashley Byrd about JAG
Antriel Palmer of Lake Marion High School received the 2010 Governor’s Award, from Governor Mark Sanford. Palmer turned his academic progress around. He started with a 1.9 GPA, but graduated with a 3.1 GPA and now plans to be a pharmacist.
Taylor says in a perfect world, every school in the state would have a Jag specialist. He says the program is a bargain, at $65,000 per school each year. Half of the program is raised through federal grants and the rest is raised through local school districts. He says it has a measurable return on investment.
JAG is an effort of the Workforce Board, formerly under the Commerce Department, which now is part of the new Department of Employment and Workforce.