More than 400 Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) participants visited the Kansas Statehouse as part of the JAG-K Day at the Capitol celebration on Feb. 7.
Students from JAG-K programs across the state met with their legislators, informing them about the impact of the program and inviting them to visit their schools. Meeting with legislators helps JAG-K students understand how government works and connects the lawmakers to JAG-K at the local level.
Students toured the Capitol building and observed both legislative bodies in session. For many, it was their first visit to the Statehouse.
“This event allows the students to see how policies are made and what legislators do,” said Kareema Williams, Career Specialist at Wichita North High School. “A lot of our kids have never been to the State Capitol. They don’t even know what it looks like. They don’t know the rich history. This day allows them to be in position of knowledge of how the government works for the state of Kansas.”
Statewide-elected student leaders of JAG-K were recognized on the floor of the House and Senate. Gov. Laura Kelly signed a proclamation designating Feb. 7 as “JAG-K Day at the Capitol.”
“Civic awareness and leadership development are two important aspects of the JAG model, and JAG-K Day at the Capitol is the perfect teaching event for those two competencies,” JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp said. “The Kansas Legislature and Governor Kelly have been strong supporters of JAG-K, and this is an excellent opportunity for our students to thank them, encourage their continued involvement, and to learn about Kansas government at the same time.”
Knapp and several JAG-K students testified to the impact of the program before the Senate Education Committee. (Click to watch the video of the committee hearing.)
Xavier Aquino, a senior at Shawnee Mission North High School, described how JAG-K Day at the Capitol helps legislators learn more about the program.
“The legislators we met with asked what I’ve seen and how JAG-K has helped me and my fellow students,” Aquino said. “Kansas is very lucky to have a very supportive group of officials. Students come here and understand that (elected officials) care about us and believe in what we’re doing. They may not realize that until they come here and have legislators stand and applaud them. I think that’s just huge.”
Kansas’ 112 JAG-K programs serve approximately 6,000 students in 47 school districts across the state. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model. Last year more than 900 JAG-K participants graduated from high schools across the state.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Royals Foundation, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Kohl’s, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of Kaw Valley, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.