Workforce program coming to GMG High

This fall, GMG Community Schools and Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) are partnering to launch a program that will increase graduation rates, improve workforce skills, and help students successfully transition to life after high school.

Up to 45 GMG High School juniors and seniors will participate in iJAG which is offered during the school day, for academic credit.

Students must face at least three significant barriers to success to be eligible for programming.

“We are thrilled to welcome new districts and students to the iJAG family,” iJAG President and CEO, Laurie Phelan said. “We know we can make a difference for those kids who need a little extra support, a strong mentor, or an approach that is more hands-on than most traditional classrooms. Our job is to find out what students need to succeed and to help them access it. There are broad themes, of course, but our work looks different for every single kid who signs on to our roster.”

Phelan says iJAG provides an engaging mix of mentoring, small group instruction, project-based learning and real-world experience with employer partners like John Deere, Principal Financial and UnityPoint.

The result, she says, is students who graduate with the hard and soft skills to begin a living-wage career or pursue post-secondary education or training that will lead to long-term self-sufficiency.

Following graduation, iJAG staff mentor students for 12 months helping with job and educational placements, guiding them through life challenges and celebrating with them when things go well. Even after students complete their post secondary transition, they often stay connected with their iJAG Specialist.

The iJAG program is a 501(c)3 non-profit affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates. The organization assists students facing multiple barriers to success to graduate from high school and transition to continued education and careers. Since launching with six program sites in 1999, the organization has grown to nearly 100 sites serving more than 4500 students and recent graduates each year. Over its history, iJAG’s participants have overcome life challenges to achieve a collective graduation rate of 95%. One year after earning a diploma, more than 80% are in school, employed, or a combination of the two.

The program is paid for by a combination of public and private support, including annual funding from the Iowa Legislature, school districts, and iJAG’s private partners.