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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Many students entering a High School Completion Program are young adults or adults who struggled in a traditional high school setting for a variety of reasons. These students enrolled in the diploma completion program are looking for a second chance at not only earning their high school diploma, but to embark on a journey towards post-secondary education, and, ultimately better career options.
On Sept. 4, service workers in more than 150 cities began a revolt against low wages. The continued nonviolent displays of civil disobedience prove workers' determination to "fight for $15." For demonstrators, walking out on jobs and risking arrest were small prices to pay compared to the potential rewards of an increased minimum wage. For fast food workers- many of whom are adults trying to support families-the strikes represent more than money; they're also fighting for union recognition, fair treatment and opportunities for a better life.
Perspective frames everything we do " the challenges we face, the obstacles we overcome, and the goals we accomplish. Yet it's not until we go outside of our own frame and look into the lives of others that we are truly able to grasp where we stand.
Last week Penn Foster attended the 2014 Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) 2014 Annual conference, where we co-presented a panel discussion with Dorsey Schools. Denise Fox Pratt (VP of Institutional Effectiveness), Gerrit Ketelhut (Penn Foster program facilitator) and Nikkiya Gentry (Penn Foster High School graduate and Dorsey Culinary Arts student) provided their unique perspectives on how Penn Foster's High School Completion program is creating positive outcomes for local students, Dorsey Schools, and the greater Detroit community. Here are my big takeaways from the panel: 
What's a high school diploma worth? In terms of salary earnings, about $10,386 a year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.1 Yet, 32 percent of students who drop out of high school do so to find employment.2 Having a high school diploma not only presents opportunities for higher wages, but it also opens the door to a boosted socioeconomic status.
For many teens and children, homelessness seems a safer environment than living under a roof filled with emotional stress or abuse. The grim reality is that many of our marginalized youth feel they have no choice but to abandon their home and try to make it on their own. Barbara Duffield, director of policy and programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, told U.S. News & World Report that young people may even be homeless with their family and take on the role of caretaker for younger siblings.1
In GradNation's campaign to raise the national graduation rate to 90% by 2020, they surveyed noncompleters to gain further insight on the real reasons they left school. Based on these survey results, Penn Foster in partnership with America's Promise hosted a panel of academic professionals to discuss an action plan for fulfilling our promise to provide children with a pathway to graduation. Among the panel experts was Elayne Bennett, Founder & President, Best Friends Organization. Below she provides as with more insight by answering questions that arose from the Google+ hangout discussion.
What does a career college have to do with graduating high school students? A valid question, for sure, and one that Penn Foster aims to answer as we head to the 2014 Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) Annual Conference the first week of November. At the conference Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster, will lead a discussion with panelists from Dorsey School on how career colleges can help more students gain access to post-secondary education.

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