DENVER – Colorado has launched a new program to help working adults earn a high school diploma. The Workforce Diploma Pilot Program is free for adult learners.
Graduation Alliance was chosen as the provider, offering 24/7 online education services.
“A person that has a high school diploma versus someone who doesn’t is going to earn $230,000 more over a lifetime,” said Greg Harp, chief development officer for Graduation Alliance.
He also points out they will use fewer state services and will be able to fill some of the 240,000 currently unfilled mid-skill jobs.
Angelica Espinosa dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. She got a job to help her single mom make ends meet.
“I really didn’t put more importance in school. I wanted to get a job to help her out. I didn’t go back all these years because I put work in front of it. I have three children, I said, ‘I have to step it up.’ You know, my mom would always tell me, ‘I think you should go back to school. I think it’s a good idea.’ I said I would do it later. So later is now,” she said.
Espinosa said she looked up online diploma programs and came across Graduation Alliance and was accepted into the Workforce Diploma Program.
“It’s pretty much at your own pace. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get there in a couple months. I thought it would be so much harder to do it online, but there’s so much support through that system,” she said.
Harp said, “A key piece is even though it’s online, there’s a teacher support available to them who is proactively reaching out to them. They have the support they need to complete the diploma. Often times, online programs are ‘Here’s a computer — have at it.’ What we know is students who have dropped out of high school when they were younger need extra layers of support, they need people to hold them accountable, to help them.”
Graduation Alliance offers 24/7 teacher help along with academic coaches and career counselors to help students make the most of the program.
“Those support services help them ask the right questions, help them put themselves in the right mindset,” Harp said. “Our goal is to help them learn what they need to learn, align with industry standards of a high school diploma, but not to put a lot of fluff in it.”
He said Colorado has made this a priority. The legislature passed it last year and is funding the pilot program for three years.
Espinosa said she is looking forward to a career in human resources so she can help other people. And she said, it’s not just about a bigger paycheck.
“My mother had a lot of influence in me going back to school, so to be able to make her proud of who she raised makes me feel good,” she said.
For more information, visit the program’s website.