South Carolina’s Job’s for Americas Graduates Program Saluted for Exceeding National Standards for 9th Straight Year

For the ninth consecutive year, South Carolina’s Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG-SC) program been awarded the prestigious 5-of-5 award. JAG-SC focuses on helping challenged and disadvantaged youth graduate from school and either find employment or continue their education. The program continues to exceed the five national standards set for the 38 states participating in the state-based, national school-to-work transition program.

Beaufort businessman Jay Holloway was honored last year with the Jobs for America’s Graduates’ (JAG) National Workforce Development Leadership Award. Holloway, owner of the OCS Garage Door and Hurricane Protection Co. in Beaufort, is a gubernatorial appointee as a business representative on the S.C. State Workforce Development Board (SWDB). JAG cites his leadership on SWDB as demonstrating “high levels of engagement, passion and advocacy, especially for the underserved.” The award is presented each year to celebrate extraordinary leadership and support for the JAG program.

Not only did the state program secure the 5-of-5 designation, but half of its school affiliated programs received the 5-of-5 local recognition when the 2019 JAG National Training Seminar was held earlier this month. In addition to the recognition awards, attendees also participated in best-practice workshops on a range of topics. Subjects included classroom management, trauma-informed care, employer engagement, project-based learning, storytelling, mentoring, negotiation skills, resilience strategies and facilitation skills.

JAG-SC operates in 22 schools, with each program headed by a Job Specialist. The JAG model includes mentoring students who are organized in Career Association Chapters with elected officers, choosing and implementing community service projects, maintaining records and being encouraged to meet attendance and academic requirements. Students are followed for one year after graduation, in order to monitor graduation rate, school placement rates, total positive outcomes rate, job placement rates and full-time jobs rates. These measurements are what dictate the outcome of the annual 5-of-5 state distinction.

The 5-of-5 award is presented each year to celebrate the extraordinary state and local leadership and support for the JAG program, whose Board of Directors currently has 12 governors and has included individuals who have gone on to hold key roles on the national political stage.

JAG-SC’s success has led to the establishment of two out-of-school programs in Richland and Charleston counties that concentrate on resiliency-building and workforce-preparation programs for students who have left the school system.
Outstanding Specialist Awards were presented to:

Carmen Bowman-Dozier, C.A. Johnson High School in Richland County
Angel Connell, Wade Hampton High School in Hampton County

5-of-5 Awards were presented to:
Carmen Bowman-Dozier, C.A. Johnson High School in Richland County
Angel Connell, Wade Hampton High School in Hampton County
Dorothy Fore, Creek Bridge High School in Marion County
Noreen Baker, Darlington High School in Darlington County
Sonya Allen, Lake Marion High School in Orangeburg County
Joe Watson, Lancaster High School in Lancaster County
Dontavis Miller, Manning High School in Clarendon County
Camilla Jones, Marion High School in Marion County
Terry Davis, Mullins High School in Marion County
Nikki Jett, South Florence High School in Florence County
Cheryl McFadden, Timmonsville High School in Florence County
Oscar Neely, Westside High School in Anderson County
Recognized as “High Performer” in the 5-of-5 statistics were:
Sonya Allen, Lake Marion High School for achieving 100 percent total positive outcome rates and 100 percent full-time placement.
Nikki Jett, South Florence High School for achieving all standards for all students, and Cheryl McFadden of Timmonsville High School for scoring 100 percent in all 5-of-5 categories and attaining an 85 percent rate in the further education category.
Chilaura Spears, S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s JAG Out-of-School Program in Richland County was also recognized for her high rate of barrier removals.

Holloway’s longstanding engagement in JAG-SC initiatives and his visionary leadership of the program have made the South Carolina program one of the most successful in the country. As chairman of the Priority Populations Committee, he assisted with the 2018 SWDB grant allocations to support organizations that help individuals overcome employment challenges. Additionally, through his hands-on engagement at the JAG-SC youth conferences, he championed an investment in the expansion of state’s JAG model to support an out-of-school initiative. A $400,000 investment was awarded to pilot the model program which will help participating non-graduates obtain their high school diploma or GED while enhancing their employability.

JAG-SC has been administered by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce since its establishment in 2005. Elaine Midkiff serves as state coordinator of the program that has assisted more than 9,500 youth and currently serves 1,110 active high-school participants.

“I am extremely proud that JAG-SC has been held in such high regard by the national program. And personally, I am also extremely proud of Mary Jo Schmick and Elaine Midkiff. They are the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce employees who work so hard to make the JAG-SC program the quality initiative that it is. In addition to being proud of the program and our role in it, I am also extremely pleased by the impact of JAG-SC. This program has touched the lives of thousands of children throughout the past decade. To see these students actively involved in their projects in 22 schools throughout the state drives home the fact that this program is not just a winner, it manufactures winners,” said G. Daniel Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

About DEW
The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) is putting South Carolinians to work. The agency invests in building a pipeline of quality workers, matches workers with jobs, and is a bridge for individuals who find themselves out of work for no fault of their own. This promotes financial stability and economic prosperity for employers, individuals and communities. DEW is dedicated to advancing South Carolina through services that meet the needs of the state’s businesses, jobseekers and those looking to advance their careers.


SCBIZtv is part of the SC Biz News family, serving 100,000 high-level business execs throughout South Carolina. Click for more from SCBIZtv.