JOBS for AMERICA'S GRADUATES

JAG hopes to help at-risk youths continue education

With a mission to focus on the labor market for teens, minorities and low-income youth, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), founded in 1980 by former Delaware Gov. Pete DuPont, is a nonprofit organization aimed at helping the youth, particularly at-risk youth, to stay in school, pursue post-secondary education and land jobs that lead to various career opportunities.

As of September, the national program has moved to Pennsylvania and the JAG Pa President, Anthony Powell, is enthused for its work throughout the state.

As Powell explained, a major goal for JAG Pa is to continue to grow and expand the JAG Model Programs in the Philadelphia region. Their plan for the 2013-14 school year is to place approximately five to seven new JAG Model In-School programs specifically targeting Philadelphia, Delaware and Bucks Counties. Their objective is to focus early on, on students at risk of not graduating and providing them with various services helping them to stay in school. Additionally the program is aimed to help young people who have left school to reenter and graduate.

“The labor market for the nation’s teens, 16 to 21 years old, has been a very troublesome one over the past decade,” Powell said. “While all major demographic groups of teens experienced sharp declines in their employment rates, the losses were relatively steeper for males, Blacks, and low income youth.”

JAG PA launched their first test of its JAG Model In-School and Out-of School-Time (OST) programs at Universal Audenried Charter High School, Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School and Lincoln University’s University City Campus in partnership with Lincoln’s Upward Bound Program.

“Some of the expectations of the first test were to increase the existing graduation rate amongst seniors at both targeted high schools,” Powell said.

The partnership with the Upward Bound Program served as exposure for high school students, to post-secondary educational opportunities.

Powell believes while they aim to see short-term results, the program is set to have positive long-term results as well.

“The long-term impact of the program will alter the negative elements that are destroying the fabric of the city of Philadelphia — crime, poverty, illiteracy and joblessness continue to plague these communities and are ever increasing,” he said. “The JAG Model Programs will seek to eradicate these chronic problems before youth develop poor habits.”

According to the JAG 2012 annual report, the employment-to-population ratio for the youth involved in JAG was 62 percent versus the national comparison group, which was 42 percent. JAG used a compilation by the Center for Labor Market Studies of Northeastern University to record these statistics.

Motivated by these numbers, Powell believes the JAG Model is an important initiative for the communities throughout the state.

“A program like JAG is so needed and necessary our communities in Pennsylvania because of the limited resources that are available to our students,” he said. “JAG model programs will support, train, educate and empower youth who have significant barriers to graduation and may fail to achieve a successful transition to employment and/or post-secondary education.”