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Yesterday, Penn Foster, in collaboration with America's Promise, hosted a virtual discussion: Don't Call them Dropouts: A Conversation About "Non-Completes" and What it Takes to Raise Graduation Rates. We were proud to be joined by  moderator, Jon Zaff, Executive Director of Center for Promise and panelists Ray McNulty, Chairman of Penn Foster High School Board; Chairman of National Dropout Prevention Center Network, Elayne Bennett, President & Founder, Best Friends Foundation, and Beth Reynolds, National Dropout Prevention Center Network . Key points discussed include the power of adversity, resiliency and connection, how the education system can change and adapt to the needs and challenges of these students, and the barriers students are facing to re-enter school after taking time off. 
The current labor market "skills gap" translates into more than 4 million jobs annually going unfilled, and stems from an imperfect match of supply and demand for critical talent in growing sectors of the economy.
Tomorrow, Saturday September 27, 2014,  we celebrate American Graduate Day. Now in its third consecutive year,  the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and America's Promise Alliance,  will lead this public media initiative to help communities bolster graduation rates and combat the high school dropout crisis.
After donning the cap and gown, what comes next for high school graduates?
Just because they did not complete high school does not mean they cannot be successful in college.  In many cases, the high school dropout population has the motivation and incentive to regain control of their learning and career building, but lack an on-ramp to gain affordable access to higher education. An on-campus High School Completion (HSC) program provides a platform for prospective career college students who were previously turned away because they didn't complete high school. Hear the story of how one student's life changed when she got the opportunity to earn her high school diploma.
Since the 2008 implementation of the Penn Foster Dropout Retrieval program, thousands of organizations, communities and people have seen results from this educational opportunity. Success stories such as the Polk County School District-where more than 700 students got a second chance at high school graduation-pave the way for future partnerships. The program's proven results, marked by 82 percent graduation rate and 96 percent student satisfaction rates, gave way to another winning partnership with the Scranton School District.
More and more career colleges are turning away potential students because they lack a high school diploma or equivalent. Recent changes to the GED make it more difficult to pass and the elimination of federal financial aid programs like AtB, and many career colleges are seeing their pool of qualified, prospective students declining. Eligibility, or a lack of a high school diploma, prevents individuals from pursuing post-secondary education and changing their futures, and negatively impacts enrollment for colleges. See how one career college solved this growing problem with a new type of enrollment solution " a High School Completion Program.
Poverty, income inequality, and crime are combustible forces that can destroy families, corrupt communities and harden society in countless ways. The good news is that the common vaccine to all these ailments is education, starting with a high school diploma. More than 90% of jobs demand this credential to get a job, and the imperative for all stakeholders (students, parents, schools, businesses and government) is to build a cohesive plan of attack.
The cost of putting a student through school is less than the cost of imprisonment.  On top of that, an individual has a much higher financial (and social) benefit to their community as a high school or college graduate than as an inmate.

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