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UNG joins initiative to help at-risk students in northeast Georgia

UNG student and former Jobs for Georgia Graduates participant Steicy Zavala speaks about the importance of the program during the program launch at Johnson High School in Hall County.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) has partnered with the Georgia Department of Labor, Hall County Schools and community and business leaders to bring the Jobs for Georgia Graduates (JGG) program to northeast Georgia, beginning this fall.

JGG is the state affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program and is focused on preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. The program’s main objective is to ensure that its participants meet all the necessary requirements for high school graduation by providing training, mentoring, counseling and leadership development for students in grades 9-12. The program will start as a three-year pilot with Dawson County High School, Stephens County High School and Johnson High School of Hall County.

"Jobs for Georgia Graduates has an exceptional record helping students throughout Georgia overcome various barriers to graduation and work," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "In the recent school year, 99.6 percent of our JGG students graduated, which is significantly higher than the overall statewide high school graduation rate of 78.8 percent. Partnerships like this are essential to financing JGG expansions, and we’re excited about the opportunity to replicate this level of success in northeast Georgia."

JGG’s mission is similar to that of UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development (REED) Task Force – a partnership of more than 100 invited business, education, government, and community leaders from northeast Georgia.

The UNG REED Initiative Steering Committee consists of Tanya Bennett (English/Honors), Sheila Caldwell (Complete College Georgia/Diversity), Bryson Payne (Center for Cyber Operations Education), Rose Procter (BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership), Charles Wood (Grants and Contracts), and committee chair Edward Mienie (Economic Development and Community Engagement).

The strategic goals of REED focus on partnerships and collaboration, furthering access to education, and supporting the region’s workforce development.

"In many ways, UNG’s REED Initiative served as the catalyst for our participation in the JGG program," said Dr. Richard Oates, vice president of UNG’s Gainesville Campus. "JGG ties-in with UNG’s ongoing efforts to build collaborations and share successful community practices to increase educational attainment across the northeast Georgia region and strengthen the region's economy. As a JGG partner, UNG will assist with classroom instruction and training that has the ability to impact up to 350 high-risk students within UNG’s county service area."

Oates added that JGG is a program that mutually benefits the student, employers and the state by providing qualified employers a pool of motivated, job ready employees and produces qualified graduates for the labor market, post-secondary education or the military.

Students in the JGG program receive one-on-one counseling and support with employability skills training, career counseling, leadership and self-development, and social and civic awareness. Additionally, students receive 12 months of placement and follow-up services immediately upon graduation to ensure a path to success.

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