A Message from Jobs for America's Graduates President, Ken Smith:
We hope this finds you all in good health and managing well.
In this tough time, we want to bring you some good news: Jobs for America’s Graduates, operating in 1,450 locations, now serves 76,000 youth – more than we have ever served. And beyond that, JAG students continue to achieve extraordinary results, even at the front lines of the pandemic.
You know well that JAG has always concentrated on the most economically disadvantaged youth. Over half of our students identify as African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Mixed ethnicity, many of whom face poverty, inequality, and multiple other systemic barriers to success. All JAG students are selected based on the challenging barriers to academic and economic success they face.
We believe we are working exactly where we need to be, precisely when we are needed most. We completed follow-up support services for the Class of 2019 on May 31, following the damage the pandemic caused to the school system. As the results highlight, JAG is making a decisive difference in helping our students – and their families – endure through the crisis and succeed in high school graduation, jobs, higher education, and life.
As you know, JAG provides 12 full months of follow-up support services to all students after high school graduation. These support services have never been more important. When the quarantine shut down the nation’s economy in March, the JAG team helped many of our students maintain employment, while pivoting from in-person classroom instruction to delivering all of our training and support services virtually. JAG’s front line staff helped all our students complete their school year and move on to the next grade, consistent with schools’ requirements. In addition, JAG supported the 18,000 seniors in the JAG program as they worked to complete their high school graduation requirements and enter the labor market.
As we completed our 12 months of follow-up services, we took the final “snapshot” of data for the Class of 2019, and the results included the following:
We are truly inspired by the work of our team members at the front lines. For many of our students, school was a major outlet and relief from difficult situations at home. They no longer have that outlet and/or do not have jobs to go to, so JAG Specialists are helping them with alternative arrangements and even with food, shelter, clothing, and other daily requirements.
Please read our two recent articles from Forbes, which help tell the story:
The first article describes the perspectives of students and staff at the front lines in Missouri, where the impacts and conditions of the pandemic are similar to those in all of our 1,450 locations across the country.
The second is an article authored by Ken Smith, JAG's President, discussing our students’ fears about how their peers are reacting. We have a genuine risk of "losing" many of our young people. Many of them may stop attending school because they face severe economic difficulties, unemployment, and family issues. They may now have to care for younger children at home when one or both parents return to work. Since the schools closed, these youth no longer engage with schoolmates or teachers. Only about 50% of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable youth even heard from their schools after early March, so they have truly lost contact. And of course, when they do look for jobs, they will be competing with 45 million other job seekers in the worst labor market in modern history.
If there is any good news, it is that that JAG is once again helping to achieve genuine equality in opportunities for education, jobs, and life outcomes for some of the most vulnerable youth in America.
We are grateful for your support and confidence, and we hope you might share this information with someone else to make them aware of what JAG is doing to support the youth and young adults we serve. We are fighting the funding battles of our lives in the 37 states where JAG operates. Please forward this email to legislators, Governors, and members of school boards where JAG operates if you can. This will help us make the case for JAG as legislators and policy makers make difficult budget decisions about which organizations will receive enough money to meet their goals and overcome their challenges.
Thank you for being a Friend of JAG!
Ken Smith, President
Janelle Duray, Executive Vice President