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After more than three decades of operation, the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program has proven to be one of the most cost-effective and successful state-level strategies for tackling high dropout rates, low academic performance, youth unemployment, and other critical issues related to at-risk youth. Participants actively engage in career exploration, goal setting and leadership development as they plan for their future and transition to post-secondary education and/or the labor market.
The JAG model is a comprehensive competency based program focused on the academic attainment and development of essential skills needed to attach successfully to post-secondary education, advanced training and/or the labor market. Nationally, JAG is a proven model for successful engagement of high-risk youth and for combating the dropout crisis facing America. In particular, JAG is the only program in the nation in which African American males consistently outperform and out-achieve their peers; further demonstrating the success and validity of the JAG model.
JAG Indiana launched in 2006 under the leadership of Governor Mitch Daniels. Since then, the program has reached over 10,000 students through in-school dropout prevention programs and out-of-school dropout recovery programs. During the 2014-2015 school year alone, JAG Indiana will operate 106 sites across the state and touch the lives of 3,895 youth.
A program of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, JAG Indiana is supported with limited federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds, but increases in state funding ensure that Indiana’s JAG program will be a nationwide leader for years to come. Indiana has the largest state JAG program in the nation as a result of Governor Mike Pence – a Vice-Chair on the national JAG Board of Directors – doubling the state’s level of funds for JAG in 2014. Programs are operated locally through WorkOne and in partnership with local schools and community service providers.
In 2015, Hoosier JAG students were awarded more than $15.3 million in scholarship funds. Indiana achieved a statewide 5-of-5 – meeting all statewide goals – for the first time in history during the 2014-15 school year. Eleven of Indiana’s 12 workforce investment regions also achieved 5-of-5, as well as 47 of Indiana’s different programs (including in-school, out-of-school, and alternative education) across the state. In 2014, nine Hoosier JAG classroom teachers or “Specialists” were named “Outstanding JAG Specialists,” and three Indiana JAG program management staff members were recognized as national high performers.