Jobs for America's Graduates and AT&T Team Up to Help DeKalb School District Students Succeed


Support will help JAG reach more youth at risk of dropping out

DECATUR, Ga., June 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond today announced that five DeKalb County high schools will participate in the Jobs for Georgia's Graduates program.

President of AT&T Georgia Beth Shiroishi, second from right, presents a check for $30,000 to State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, left, and DeKalb County School Superintendent Michael L. Thurmond, right. Also shown is Janelle Duray, Associate Vice President of Jobs for Americas Graduates, second from left.

The five high schools schools are: Cross Keys High School, Clarkston High School, Lithonia High School, Ronald E. McNair High School, and Towers High School.

Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) and AT&T are working together to help raise the high school graduation rate in DeKalb Schools by enhancing academic support for students at risk of dropping out of high school. AT&T has contributed $1 million in an effort to expand the JAG program nationally, and Jobs for Georgia's Graduates has been a beneficiary of that gift.

JAG programs help underserved students overcome barriers to graduation through mentoring, tutoring, academic support and links to social services among other interventions.  With a high school diploma or General Educational Diploma, students are guided into post-secondary education, entry-level careers or the military.

The DeKalb County School District is the third largest district in the state serving nearly 100,000 students.  Superintendent Thurmond, a former Georgia Commissioner of Labor for three terms, worked closely with the JGG program during his time as Labor Commissioner.

"I've seen the impact of Jobs for Georgia's Graduates, serving disadvantaged students to help them finish high school and move on to postsecondary education and a career," said Mr. Thurmond. "I want to bring the JGG program to our schools in DeKalb County to share that opportunity for success with our high school students that need it the most."

"JGG is wonderful program that has helped remove barriers for students and increased graduation rates across Georgia. Superintendent Thurmond should be commended for his dedication to the students of DeKalb County and I'm excited about our continued partnership providing students the tools they need for future success," said Georgia's Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler.  Commissioner Butler serves on the JAG National Board of Directors and has been a long-time proponent of both JAG and JGG.

The Jobs for Georgia's Graduates program currently operates in 22 schools elsewhere in the state. Last year, the program boasted a 96-percent graduation rate and 87-percent successful outcomes, meaning students went on to post-secondary education, employment, or some combination of the two.

"We are encouraged by the recent news that for the first time we are on a path to reach a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020[1], but we also know there is more work to be done," said Beth Shiroishi, President of AT&T Georgia and former President of the AT&T Foundation.  "Bringing to scale programs like JAG that are making a measurable impact on the students that need it most is one of the key ways we can stay on track to meet our graduation goal."

In 2012, JAG's network of affiliates reported a 93-percent high school graduation rate, compared to the national graduation rate of 78.2 percent[2].  Currently, the JAG model is offered in nearly 1,000 public high schools, community colleges, and alternative learning centers in 31 states.

"It is rare in our experience for a company to be as thorough and tough minded in its approach of supporting strategies that are proven to work – and then get behind them with both money and critical organizational commitment as well," said JAG's CEO and President, Ken Smith.  "AT&T has indeed set a gold standard."

In more than three decades of operation, JAG has helped nearly one million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.

Since 2008, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have provided approximately $4 million in funding to JAG and its local affiliates.  This support is part of AT&T Aspire, AT&T's $350 million commitment to education. With more than 1 million students impacted since its launch in 2008, Aspire is one of the nation's largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. 

About Jobs for America's Graduates
Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) is a non-profit youth development program committed to helping America's most at-risk kids excel in high school, prepare for success in college, and embark on a rewarding career. Since its inception in 1980, JAG has served nearly 1 million at-risk kids, and is currently serving over 45,000 students in 31 states.  JAG students have a graduation rate of over 90 percent, and approximately 80 percent of those graduates go on to postsecondary education, military service and/or full-time employment.

About Philanthropy at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.

[1] Alliance for Excellent Education, America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, Annual Update February 2013.

[2] Ibid.

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