JOBS for AMERICA'S GRADUATES

Jobs Program Needs More Funding, Support

Written by:  Governor Phil Bryant (MS) and Mayo Flynt, President, AT&T-Mississippi 
ClarionLedger.com 
February 15, 2014
 
For any family or individual, a good job can mean everything. Ultimately landing that job starts months, and even years, in advance. Whether it is a child’s earliest learning at home, elementary and high school education or workforce training, the foundation for success is laid long before a potential employee walks into an interview.
 
That is why it is so important to us that we identify children who are at risk of stepping off the path to success. Jobs for Mississippi Graduates has been helping children in Mississippi for 25 years, changing lives for the better in the process. Thirty-one states, including Mississippi, use this proven program to help students who might otherwise drop out stay on track.
 
We all know too well that a student who drops out of high school will see his or her opportunities in life diminish as a result. Mississippi is working hard to implement public education reforms that will help reverse that trend, and Jobs for Mississippi Graduates is an important part of that effort. This program is currently helping 1,100 students in 43 schools across the state, intervening to get these children to graduation and exposing them to opportunities beyond high school, including college, full-time employment or other vocational programs.
 
The program has an exceptionally high success rate — more than 90 percent of participants complete high school. And last year, more than 300 students in the program went on to attend a four-year college upon graduating high school. These are concrete numbers that prove the success of the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program.
 
These statistics are also proof of how successful the public and private sectors can be when working together to boost graduation rates and prepare the next generation of Mississippi’s workforce.
 

Whether it is Yokohoma Tire Company that is bringing thousands of jobs to Clay County, GRAMMER Inc. that recently announced it is creating more than 600 jobs in Lee County with a new U.S. headquarters there, or myriad excellent companies that operate in this state, Mississippi is continuing to grow its opportunities for sound employment right here at home.
 
In order to maintain these opportunities and attract others like them, we must ensure that all of today’s students are well prepared to embrace success.
 
By expanding Jobs for Mississippi Graduates, we can take a strong step toward providing even more students with the tools they need to build vibrant futures.
 
Our goal is to increase the number of Mississippi schools participating in the program to at least 100 within the next two years.
 
Achieving this objective will take a unified effort. We will call on the Legislature to provide $1 million in funding for the upcoming budget cycle, and we are asking school and business leaders to become more engaged in the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program.
 
We are confident that the result of these efforts — brighter futures for more Mississippi children — will be more than worth the work.
 
Phil Bryant is governor of Mississippi. Mayo Flynt is president of AT&T Mississippi. To learn more about Jobs for Mississippi Graduates, visit www.jmgms.org. To learn more about national efforts, visit Jobs for America’s Graduates online at www.jag.org.