IN Brief

JAG post-graduation jobs program to expand in Indiana

By: - August 28, 2023 2:12 pm

Programs aimed at getting Hoosier students working after graduation are set to become more widely available. (Photo courtesy Conexus Indiana)

The number of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) programs in Indiana will double from 125 to 250 by the end of the next school year, according to a release from Gov. Eric Holcomb.

“Every day, Indiana’s JAG program is helping more Hoosier students achieve their career and personal goals — all while helping ensure our state is prepared to meet 21st century workforce demands,” Holcomb said in a news release. “With this expansion, more Hoosier communities and schools will be taking advantage of JAG’s proven results and experienc(ing) the positive effects of partnerships at the state, regional and local levels.”

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) will oversee implementation of the funding, which comes from the Family and Social Services Administration’s (FSSA) allotment of federal dollars, for a total of $23.1 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant.

JAG caters to high school students encountering graduation barriers by teaching them “in-demand employability skills,” exploring career options and coaching expertise, according to the release. Since launching in 2006, JAG has served 40,000 Hoosiers and graduated more than 95% of its students.

Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Richard Paulk (From DWD’s website)

“The skills students obtain while in JAG go beyond just getting a job; they leave high school as leaders in their community, they’re more confident and they have a sense of purpose,” said DWD Commissioner Richard Paulk in a release. “The growth of Indiana’s JAG program ensures opportunities for a new generation of student leaders across our state.”

The expansion will include 40 programs in Hoosier high schools and college campuses by January 2024, and another 45 by August 2024. The final 40 programs will launch by January 2025, before the end of the school year, for a combined reach of 10,000 students annually.

In the 2022-2023 school year, the JAG program had a 95% graduation rate, a 83% full-time employment rate and 39% of student pursuing further education — according to the release, the graduating class earned more than $23.2 million in grants and scholarships.

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“We are absolutely thrilled with the commitment of Governor Holcomb and the Department of Workforce Development to expand JAG Indiana programming to serve several more thousand youth across the state,” said incoming JAG National President and CEO Janelle Duray. “At JAG National, we know there is incredible need across the nation to ensure young people are connected to education and employment opportunities in their communities and provided the support needed to thrive, and our National Network of Affiliates are working hard to heed that call. Indiana is among those states leading the charge, and as a result, lives will be positively impacted and its employers, communities, and citizens will benefit.”

An additional $1.5 million in funding from FSSA’s Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services Vocational Rehabilitation program, in partnership with DWD, will support the increasing number of students with disabilities participating in JAG.

The criteria for expanding JAG programs will be:

  • Schools that have already expressed interest in establishing a JAG program;
    • Schools with existing JAG programs that have at least an additional 40 students who will benefit from the program;
    • Schools with lower graduation rates and higher rates of Free-or-Reduced Lunch and/or special education cohorts;
  • Middle school pilot sites that align with existing JAG high school programming that focuses on study skills development, self-esteem and graduation pathways development to ensure successful transitions into high school;
  • College Success Program expansion at post-secondary institution campuses.


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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.