Corinthian Colleges Inc. recently donated $1 million to the National Urban League for a college bound program benefitting high school dropouts. Pittsburgh was selected as one of the sites for the Urban Empowered College Bound Program aimed at helping participants earn their general equivalency diploma.

President, CEO Pgh Urban League

“We’ve been a partner with the National Urban League in a similar program for 18- to 24-year-olds. This program is specifically geared toward helping young people become college ready and a lot of the focus is on Corinthian Colleges, but for those who are not pursuing Corinthian, we can help them get their GED and pursue other post secondary education,” said Debra Tucker, vice president of programs and services for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

The program will target youth who did not graduate high school, but are interested in pursuing post secondary education. The Corinthians grant will allow the Urban League to serve 200 participants in Pittsburgh and at another Urban League affiliate in Orlando, Fl.

“This ties in with our strategic planning in terms of young people and helping them become more career focused. I like the fact we are partnering with an education institution. We like the combination of that,” Tucker said. “We know that in the new market jobs are requiring more than just a high school diploma and it’s getting to the point where they’re going to be so many opportunities lost. You need an education and the high demand jobs are requiring more than a high school diploma.”

The program will begin July 1. In addition to GED test preparation and college readiness guidance, the program will feature wrap around services such as the Urban League’s financial literacy training.

“Financial literacy is also something that’s very unique about this program. This program actually wants to help those students manage their finances before college and after college. It’s part of the Urban League’s strategic plan that we help our young people with financial literacy,” Tucker said. “We’re able to give them a comprehensive help network.”

The program will target highly motivated individuals with at least a 10th grade reading level. Tuition scholarships will be available to all participants as a result of the Corinthians grant.

“We allowed a number of sights to compete and Pittsburgh won out because of the belief we have that they can execute that program. I think what really makes it different is the wrap around skills that these young people are going to be provided with,” said National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial. “It’s absolutely part of our purpose to decrease the high school dropout rate and encourage policy makers to look at GED beyond the traditional GED. Life skills are important because employers are demanding them. The idea is to prepare people. Ultimately, more people with more skills mean more people with the ability to work higher paying jobs.”

Corinthian Colleges specializes in career education programs, which they believe help graduates take their first step up the economic ladder. Pittsburgh’s Everest College is one of Corinthian’s three schools nationwide.

“We’ve been struggling with, in our community, a large number of people who don’t finish high school on time. A high school diploma is a prerequisite to college, community college, and a pre requisite for jobs. If the resources were there, we could do a program like this in 50 cities. We find the demand for programs for people who are working to improve themselves to be very high.”

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