What do the American Staffing Association, AT&T, McDonalds, ten state governors, numerous heads of Labor and Education departments, hundreds of school leaders, and thousands of students have in common?
All have experienced the success of Jobs for America’s Graduates, or JAG—a national dropout prevention and student leadership program that has demonstrated a unique and consistent ability to produce valuable workers and leaders.
“Often in education we do not explicitly teach the ‘habits of mind’ that students need,” says Steve Pynn, a retired New Haven educator now serving on JAG CT’s Advisory Board.
“JAG has figured out how to deliver and reinforce the knowledge and behavior that employers require, and give students the skills they need to be successful in postsecondary education and in an organization.”
JAG advocates and board members go beyond expressions of support.
Archer Daniels Midland will guarantee an interview to any JAG student. The ASA is partnering with JAG to connect member firms to hire JAG students, recruit them for careers, and volunteer in JAG Classrooms. Other board members support JAG with significant financial contributions; AT&T supported JAG’s launch in 2014 and addition of Hartford Public High School this January.
The model is centered on a caring adult—a trained specialist, employed by JAG—who works with a small cohort of students over an extended period of time.
JAG forges a deep partnership with school districts, and JAG is offered as an elective credit course, teaching 37 competencies that have been validated by employers.
Each specialist also serves as a counselor, career advisor, and job developer, as well as advisor to the student-led Career Association, in which students elect leaders and carry out community service projects to reinforce skills learned.
JAG was founded 35 years ago in Delaware, when the governor and education leaders began a small program to combat dropouts.
It was quickly scaled up and spread to other states, but with a continuous focus on quality and evaluation.
Today JAG serves students in 32 states and offers rigorous data collection and accountability systems.
JAG came to Connecticut in late 2014 and is now offered in seven high schools in Hartford, New Haven, East Hartford, Manchester, and New Britain.
More than 200 students are enrolled and more are in follow-up.
These students are available for employment, both during and after high school, and come with the support of their specialist, who acts as a liaison and offers continued support to both employer and student.
Goals are high school graduation, a quality job, and continuing education and wage growth. JAG services continue for 12 months after high school graduation.
The program seeks to serve students who are at risk of dropping out and who will benefit from JAG’s leadership training, curriculum and support.
Goals are high school graduation, a quality job, and continuing education and wage growth.
“Businesses are combating skills gap challenges with long-term implication for the U.S. economy and competitiveness,” says ASA President and CEO Richard Wahlquist, announcing his organization’s partnership with JAG. “JAG helps address this critical workforce obstacle.”
“There is no need for schools to go back and figure out exactly how to impart this to students,” Pynn added. “JAG knows how to do this, and can quickly and effectively change the trajectory for these students and deliver adults who can succeed in the workplace.”
JAG CT is a program of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, and is funded by the state Departments of Labor, Education, Correction, Social Services, Children and Families, Economic Development, and the Court Support Services Division.
To connect with a JAG CT specialist and hire a JAG student, contact Liz Dupont-Diehl at 860.802.3810.