Help for Struggling High School Students

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Sponsor Focus

by Kerry Turner

Do you know of a student who is struggling through high school and you’re worried that they might not make it to graduation? Perhaps you know of a student whose personal problems are so overwhelming that they lack the motivation to dream beyond a high school education. Luckily there are several organizations out there created to help students just like these. Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) is one of those organizations. JAG is a school-to-career program implemented in 700 high schools, alternative schools and middle schools across the United States.

JAG's mission is to keep students in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career advancement opportunities or enrollment in a postsecondary institution that leads to a rewarding career. JAG programs deliver a unique set of services targeted to youths from middle schoolers to high schoolers, including 12 months of post-graduation follow-up services that will result in the graduate pursuing a postsecondary education and/or entering the workforce in a quality job leading to a career.

JAG served nearly 40,000 students in 2006-2007 and nearly 550,000 students since 1980. There are 28 active JAG state organizations all over the country. JAG also has programs available for out-of-school students (those between the ages of 15-21 who have dropped out) and a multi-year drop-out program (for 9th-12th graders) among many others.

Vivian Mack, a JAG participant and a Student Keynote Speaker, described her struggle at the 2006 JAG Leadership Awards Luncheon.

"My mother is a drug abuser and my father is an alcoholic," said Vivian. "My oldest brother, who plays the role of mom and dad in their absence, stole so that my brother, sisters and I could eat. What [has JAG meant] to me? [It] meant breaking out of my childhood shell, holding firmly and steadfastly to any challenge I undergo despite obstacles, overcoming the past, living wisely for the moment, and success in the future."

JAG gives struggling students like Vivian the skills to succeed, and the encouragement and resources to achieve something beyond what is expected. To find a JAG organization in your state or to learn more, visit