Program overview

  • Intervention aiming to improve education and career success: Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a student success program for students in grades 6-12 and those who are out-of-school or are in alternative education settings. The goal of the program is to keep young people in school through their high school graduation and improve readiness for postsecondary education and career opportunities.

  • National organization with state and local affiliates: At the national level, JAG is led by Jobs for America, which supports local JAG affiliates (typically non-profit or government agencies), which implement the program in area schools. Within schools, an advisory committee composed of faculty, administrators, and counselors identifies and invites students who are at risk of not graduating.

  • Partnering with employers to support students in career exploration: JAG connects students to potential career paths through both classroom visits from employers and on-site visits at workplaces. JAG Specialists also work individually with students to help them identify and apply for job opportunities or pursue a degree program, certification, or other credential after graduation.

  • Engaging students through project-based classroom learning: Students participating in JAG attend a credit-bearing JAG class during the school day, taught by JAG Specialists and focused primarily on key workforce competencies. These classes are structured around project-based learning, which allows students to complete assignments in a context and structure similar to what they might encounter in the workplace.

One study with a less rigorous design suggests that Jobs for America’s Graduates is a promising strategy for increasing high school completion and improving postsecondary outcomes for young people.

  • A 2019 program evaluation found that, of participants who completed the JAG out of school or alternative education program, 40 percent earned their high school credentials and 76% were either employed or in school during a six month follow-up period. This study focused exclusively on young people who had experience in foster care, experiencing homelessness or were involved with the juvenile justice system.
  • Select students intentionally for participation: Since program capacity is limited, it is important for the JAG Specialist and advisory committee to have a clearly defined selection process. In order to target students at risk of not graduating high school, this process should include an examination of data associated with noncompletion, such as attendance and disciplinary records.

  • Build strong partnerships with employers: Employability training is central to the JAG model. As such, local affiliates and schools should work to establish long-term partnerships with employers who are willing to provide input on the program model, visit classrooms, and offer on-site learning opportunities for students. Regular communication and collaboration between employers and JAG affiliates can strengthen the quality of the programming available to students.

  • Collect data and routinely assess progress on key metrics: In order to understand whether JAG programs are meeting their intended goals, local affiliates should establish data collection processes and regularly reflect and report on key metrics. Metrics may include the number of students served, high school graduation rate, part-time employment rate, full-time employment rate, rate of postsecondary educational attainment, among others. JAG’s national office offers data collection tools for local affiliates.

  • Support the whole student: Factors outside of the classroom affect a student’s success in high school and ability to pursue postsecondary opportunities. As such, JAG programs should develop relationships with local service providers so that they can connect students to external services. When Specialists identify challenges that students may be facing, they can then connect them to resources such as mental health counseling, health care services, housing programs, or nutrition assistance.