Kansas has recently joined 30 other states in enrolling students in a federally funded program aimed at raising high school graduation rates and helping students prepare for college and careers.
Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said the Kansas State Department of Education had been hoping for several years to introduce the program, called Jobs for America's Graduates, but didn't have the funds until this year, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The program targets students who might be at risk of dropping out of school, offering them extra mentoring and support. Figures from Jobs for America's Graduates show 90 percent of students in the program finish high school.
"Over 3,000 students drop out of school each year in Kansas," DeBacker said.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families secured the $3.6 million federal grant this year to launch the program. Twenty-five schools around the state are participating. The program will be administered in Kansas by Communities in Schools, a nonprofit that offers case management and other services in schools, with the goal of supporting students at risk of dropping out.
Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the Department for Children and Families, said her agency had looked for ways to fund Jobs for America's Graduates after Gov. Sam Brownback said he wanted to bring it to Kansas starting this school year.
"The money that's going into this cannot be better placed," Gilmore said.
The initial funding is for two years, but Gilmore said she's hopeful the program would continue.