A Michigan Grads Program Sets Its Sights High

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten years ago, Michigan was struggling as much as anywhere in the United States. There was no end to the recession in sight, and the state’s famed automotive and manufacturing industries were facing an uncertain future. The communities that depended on those industries were suffering from layoffs and a diminishing tax base, which hit school districts in turn. For places like Benton Harbor, a small city in the lower peninsula that had below-average high school graduation rates even in the best of times, a crisis seemed imminent.

That’s what compelled a group of community leaders to bring the nationally acclaimed Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program to Michigan. Aptly named Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), the program improves high school graduation rates and prepares students for success post-graduation.

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Educational Gateways for Lansing’s Next Generation

Tyler Elliott was angry. Anger consumed his life and exploded in high school. He fought. He didn’t study. He made poor choices that caused him to get behind or fail classes. Continually off track, Elliott was eventually expelled from his Lansing school, jeopardizing his prospects for graduating.

Elliott knew he had two options. He could take his chances and pursue life without his diploma, or he could work toward graduating by attending an alternative high school.

In September 2014, Elliott decided to try again. He enrolled at Lansing’s Woodcreek Achievement Center to complete high school, and to work through the struggles and behaviors that stood in his way. And as he neared graduation, he realized he needed additional skills for life beyond high school, and signed-up for Jobs for Michigan Graduates—a state-wide program available at Woodcreek that provides academic and career readiness skills for students at-risk.

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