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Douglass High School considers partnership with youth empowerment nonprofit

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 7:54 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – In an effort to reduce dropout rates and increase student job opportunities, Douglass High School might soon partner with an organization that provides support for at-risk high school students.

At a Columbia Board of Education meeting on Monday, Columbia School District superintendent Chris Belcher presented information about how a partnership with Jobs for Missouri Graduates might help students stay in school and find part-time jobs. The board voted unanimously to approve a partnership between the organization and Douglass High School.

The district has been working to improve employment opportunities for students, and partnering with Jobs for Missouri Graduates would be a step in the right direction, Belcher said.

Jobs for Missouri Graduates is modeled after the national nonprofit organization Jobs for America's Graduates, which uses specialists in schools to lower dropout rates and increase employment through mentoring and job-shadowing programs.

If the high school adopts the program, the school would hire a part-time employee to seek out and provide job opportunities to current students, Belcher said. Jobs are hard to come by for teenagers and not many students take advantage of job-seeking resources already available to them, he said.

According to the Jobs for America's Graduates website, teenagers are having a more difficult time finding jobs, and the employment rate among teenagers and young adults in the U.S. is at an all-time low. During the past 30 years, the employment participation rate among teenagers has plummeted from 70 percent to 45 percent.

The partnership needs approval from Belcher, Douglass High School principal Eryca Neville and a Missouri representative from Jobs for America’s Graduates, to move forward.

Belcher said the agreement between Douglass High School and Jobs for Missouri Graduates would be one year with the possibility of renewal.

Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.


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