October is National Dropout Prevention Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 12% of Hoosier working age adults lack a high school diploma. The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, is working to decrease that rate by allowing adult students the opportunity to pick up where they left off in school, providing support and resources to meet their goals.
To date, over 5,500 adults have graduated from The Excel Center. Since opening its first location in 2010, The Excel Center has seen consistent growth, including the expansion to 15 locations throughout central and southern Indiana.
“We know the multi-generational impact that education has on economic prosperity, equity and quality of life,” said Betsy Delgado, vice president of mission and education at Goodwill. “The Excel Center model helps to remove educational barriers that our students previously faced so they can reach their full potential.”
With expedited curriculum and flexible scheduling, students can graduate quickly and prepare for college and careers. The Excel Center also offers students on-site child care, transportation assistance, dual-credit courses and industry-recognized certification opportunities — all at no cost.
Since 2004, Indianapolis Metropolitan High School has been serving families across Marion County. A best-fit school for students in grades 9-12 experiencing significant barriers to education, Indy Met serves nearly 300 students each year and focuses on supporting the entire family unit. Similar to The Excel Center, Indy Met provides on-site child care and transportation assistance, along with free dual-credit courses and industry-recognized certifications, to their teenage learners.
“Through the integration of industry-recognized certifications and dual-credit courses, our schools position graduates for careers that offer better-than-average wages,” said Delgado. “Nearly 80% of graduates report being employed or enrolled in college one year after earning their diploma.”
Goodwill’s high schools have demonstrated great success, including:
- Supporting over 6,000 individuals to graduate with a Core 40 Indiana High School diploma
- Nearly 100% of graduates earned a college or career readiness credential before graduating
- 6,679 industry-recognized certifications awarded
- 12,044 college (dual) credits earned
- A $9,828 average increase in annualized wages and job prospects for graduates
Both The Excel Center and Indy Met model include staff members that focus on barrier-removal. At The Excel Center, each student is paired with a life coach who helps remove academic and non-academic barriers for adult students. Indy Met provides each student with a Family Empowerment Coach, whose main goal is to support the student’s college or career pathway as well as connect family members in the same household to Goodwill mission programs and community resources.
Please help us bring awareness to National Dropout Prevention Month by sharing this story with your personal and professional networks.