JAG-K Supports Vulnerable Students Across Kansas, Helping them Stay in School, Pursue Secondary Education, & Secure Meaningful Jobs

Topeka, KS – November 10, 2020 – Jobs for America’s Graduates Kansas (JAG-K), serving Kansas youth who face significant academic, environmental, and economic challenges, has achieved the prestigious national 5 of 5 Award, meaning they have met or exceeded Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG’s) highest national performance standards With the support of Governor Laura Kelly, JAG-K is helping the state’s most vulnerable youth succeed in school, post-secondary education, careers, and life.

As part of her commitment to the organization, Governor Kelly joins 13 other Governors from both major parties in serving on the JAG National Board of Directors. Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) and Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) serve as the Chair and Vice Chair of the organization, which has more Governors on its Board than any organization in the United States, reflecting the value of the program that each has seen in their state.

Through a combination of mentoring, employability skills instruction, and leadership development activities, JAG has served more than 1.4 million students since its inception 40 years ago. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, JAG has pivoted to virtual and hybrid models to continue providing uninterrupted services to its students.

The JAG model consists of a comprehensive set of services that apply a holistic approach to assisting students and participants. Components include classroom instruction, competency-based Project Based Learning, adult mentoring, summer employment training, student-led leadership development, job, and postsecondary education placement services, and 12-months of follow-up services after high school graduation.

“There are 78 programs in schools across Kansas, which served more than 4,200 students last year. We applaud the JAG-K Specialists (teachers) for their hard work and unwavering support of their students, which helped JAG-K achieve the 5 of 5 Award. Because of them, JAG-K students had a graduation rate of 96 percent for the Class of 2020, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ken Smith, President of Jobs for America’s Graduates. “We recognize and appreciate Governor Kelly’s leadership and her efforts to support the JAG program in Kansas, which will help ensure JAG-K will continue into the future. We are also thankful for Governor Kelly’s role on the national JAG Board of Directors, and for the important work she does in this capacity.”

“The 76,000 students that JAG serves across 39 states, including Kansas, have been hit the hardest – and likely will be impacted for the longest – by the COVID-19 pandemic. They need JAG more than ever. Many were experiencing significant barriers before the crisis hit, and now those scenarios are even more acute, given the loss of jobs and income many are facing,” Smith explained. “JAG-K will continue serving the students that need us the most at a time when employability skills are incredibly important in such a difficult job market.”

“Even amid the pandemic, JAG-K exceeded the national goals for graduation and employment. The program’s support of students facing a variety of challenges is inspiring, and JAG-K will continue to serve as a lifeline to the most vulnerable youth in our local communities,” said Governor Laura Kelly.

“The most vulnerable students in Kansas face significant challenges, including poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, trauma, and more. Our JAG-K team supports these students by making sure their basic needs are met, that they stay in school even during this tumultuous year, and they them go onto secondary education and/or find jobs in the most difficult economic climate in modern history,” said Chuck Knapp, President/CEO of JAG-K. “Our program allows students to gain a sense of security, confidence in their abilities, and direct support that helps move them successfully to their next level.”

Smith presented Kelly with the 5 of 5 Award in a virtual ceremony on November 10, thanking her for her ongoing support of the JAG-K program. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp, and JAG-K student president, Chrishayla Adams also spoke at the ceremony.

Watch the 5 of 5 Award ceremony

About JAG-K

JAG-K is a 501(c)3 non-profit that partners with public schools to offer an elective class that provides academic and other positive supports to ensure students earn their diploma. By exploring career opportunities and practicing soft skills, students are prepared to successfully transition to post-secondary education, military service, or into the workforce following their graduation.

About Jobs for America’s Graduates

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a national nonprofit that has been reaching our nation’s most underserved youth for 40 years. The JAG National Network has a footprint in 39 states, across 1,450+ communities, impacting more than 76,000 youth annually who consistently achieve outstanding results, including a 95% graduation rate. JAG graduates are 230% more likely to be employed full-time compared to their peers, and twice as likely to go to college.