Today’s high school students face many challenges which often cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety. Environmental and socio-economic conditions contribute to mental, physical, and emotional challenges. Our modern culture also places high expectations on young adults—to excel academically, participate in extracurricular activities, and transition to secondary education/careers. Far more devastating is the fact that many of these students don’t have the means to obtain a high school diploma. Facing all these challenges and potential roadblocks often leaves students feeling inadequate, isolated, and hopeless. As a result, they experience:
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Inability to fully grasp academic concepts in school
- The uncertainty that finishing high school is worthwhile in the long run
- Not knowing if higher education is right for them, or if they have the financial and emotional support, or resources required to attend higher education
- Concern that they do not possess the skills needed to secure or maintain a job
- Skepticism of how they see themselves in a job setting
Subsequently, high school graduation rates tend to decline, and students can experience continued hardship throughout adulthood. If not addressed, these problems can lead to many issues later in life, including:
- Higher unemployment rates
- Economic hardships
- Depression and anxiety
- Lower pay
- Greater chance for incarceration*
* The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network claims high school dropouts make up as much as 82 percent of the prison population in the U.S.
OUR SOLUTION: GRADPLUS
Embrace Relief and GERA are offering a partnership with schools to assist students who are struggling. Our GradPlus program is an after-school initiative that can give many students the extra tools they need to increase the success of their academic experience. These resources will also guide them to a more successful career path. Our math and reading curriculums for the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) were created by the staff at Ivy Test Prep.
GradPlus aims to:
- Increase high school graduation rates
- Improve student attendance
- Improve self-esteem and confidence
- Provide individualized support to students as they plan for graduation, college, or transition to the workforce
- Increase student awareness and access to financial support for post-secondary training or education
GradPlus focuses on several key areas of support to help students transition out of high school. This approach gives students the academic and socio-emotional tools to instill confidence and persevere in their chosen path. These areas of focus include:
Students will meet regularly with qualified guidance counselors who provide insight into which path is best for them, and how to achieve success in their chosen career path. Students will receive individualized one-on-one sessions focused specifically on their needs. Tutoring by certified teachers will provide them with:
- Assessment of individual learning needs
- Language Arts and Math support
- Review and preparation for college entrance tests and vocational certification tests
Volunteers within the school and community will help students identify future education and career opportunities. Similar to college advisors, mentors will gauge students’ interests, identify their skill sets, and help them apply those skills in school and career settings. A plan, based on what is best for each student, will be made with the school and each student will be able to meet with his or her mentor 1 or 2 times per week to receive support and guidance. Motivational speakers will also come to speak to the students at least 4 times a year to motivate, encourage, and inspire students to do the best they can do.
- Increase student awareness of career, community, and professional opportunities
- Assess organization and communication skills
- Increase exposure to valuable perspectives
- Define and set personal, educational and professional goals
- Review and discuss graduation requirements
- Provide information on federal student financial aid applications, scholarships, and grant
If students decide to enter the job market after high school, mentors will provide job readiness skills so they are better equipped. Mentors will:
- Evaluate strengths and skills for career readiness
- Provide assistance in job application procedures
- Explore certificate and credential-based career paths
- Identify Internship or Apprenticeship opportunities
Critical to socio-emotional wellness, group counseling will provide students with a forum to connect and share their experiences. Leadership development activities help students explore, reflect, and challenge themselves. With counseling:
- Students’ individual needs will be evaluated
- Group counseling sessions will help encourage and motivate students
To make GradPlus as successful as possible, we try to collaborate closely with school administrations to help ensure students receive the greatest benefit from the program.
- We directly hire all tutors and mentors and work with them to provide the individualized support for each student. All training and logistics are handled by us for tutors and mentors.
- We work with school counselors to provide a true one-on-one experience with each student (School counselors will determine which students qualify for the program).
- We maintain ongoing contact with the administration
Through the tutoring, mentoring, and guidance initiatives offered by GradPlus, students who qualify for the program will have access to the support they need to graduate high school, move onto higher education, and secure better employment opportunities. In cooperation with school administrations and local partners, we believe we can help bring tangible change to our students’ lives for the better!