JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) Jobs for America’s Graduates-Missouri, known as JAG-Missouri, recently received a number of contributions totaling more than $100,000 – one of the best fundraising periods in the organization’s recent history.
JAG is a 40-year-old national nonprofit organization that has helped more than 1.5 million students reach their full potential by ensuring they graduate from high school and are successful at the career of their choosing. JAG graduates overcome significant academic, economic, and social challenges to graduate and enter the workforce.
For the 2020-2021 school year, JAG is serving more than 76,000 participants in 1,450 communities across 40 state affiliates. Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson currently serve as co-chairs of the JAG-Missouri Board of Directors. Governor Parson also serves on the JAG National Board of Directors along with 13 other governors.
“We are passionate about workforce development and giving Missouri students the opportunity to advance in their education and careers,” Governor and First Lady Parson said in a joint statement. “That is why we got involved with JAG, and we have not been disappointed. The program has truly changed the lives of students in very positive ways, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
In recent weeks, JAG-Missouri has received the following contributions to support its students:
AT&T Foundation – $5,000 – AT&T, one of JAG’s longest-standing supporters, made a $1 million commitment to JAG National in 2020 to provide emergency resources to build virtual services for JAG participants. As part of the contribution, 13 JAG affiliates, including JAG-Missouri, received grants to prevent JAG programs from closing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensure JAG participants continued to receive the critical support of their Trauma-Informed JAG Specialist, including training in JAG’s 37 Employability Skills Competencies;
AT&T Missouri – $30,500 – AT&T Missouri helped establish JAG-Missouri as a nonprofit and has continued to play a leadership role;
Bank of America in Kansas City – $15,000 – this is the most recent of several annual grants awarded by Bank of America in Kansas City, to especially assist Kansas City-area programs;
John B. Rust Charitable Trust – $16,500 – this trust serves youth and is managed by Bank of America in Kansas City;
Central Bank of the Ozarks – $2,500 – this is the most recent annual contribution from Central Bank of the Ozarks, a partner since 2014;
Regions Bank of St. Louis – $30,000 – Regions Bank has made annual contributions since 2014 to support JAG-Missouri, especially in the Greater St. Louis Area – Regions and the Regions Foundation also made a $245,000 contribution to JAG National to provide emergency Trauma-Informed Care training and to support Affiliates across five states; and
Board Members and Individuals – $3,000.
Since JAG was founded, and even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, participants have consistently achieved outstanding results. This includes a 95.7 percent graduation rate compared to an 84 percent average national graduation rate. JAG graduates are also 230 percent more likely to be employed full-time compared to their peers and twice as likely to go to college.
In June of 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shared that 18 to 19-year-olds represented the age demographic most negatively impacted by COVID-19 layoffs with a national unemployment rate of 33 percent. For JAG graduates, that rate was three times less (11 percent).
One of 40 state affiliates, JAG-Missouri includes 87 programs across the state this year serving approximately 3,000 students in high school, alternative school, and middle school/junior high settings. Since 2014, JAG-Missouri’s graduation rate has been at or above 98 percent.
JAG-Missouri provides a grant for half of the funding for each program – $30,000 for high school and alternative programs and $20,000 for middle school/junior high programs. The grants are funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federal program administered by the Missouri Department of Social Services, and private contributions. The participating districts agree to match the funding up to the grant amounts.
“One of the strengths of JAG-Missouri is the public-private funding,” Governor and First Lady Parson said. “The private support is crucial, and we are so thankful for the contributions from these organizations and individuals. Like us, they understand the value of JAG to our students, workforce, communities, and future. As co-chairs of the board, our goal is to continue to grow JAG-Missouri and reach as many students as possible.”