RACINE — Sometimes a second chance can change your life.
Racine has more than 9,500 adults without a high school diploma, however a recently expanded program is working to change that statistic.
Earlier this year, the city became one-of-ten cities taking that took part in a national initiative to improve economic mobility for their residents. The effort is in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group.
As a result of the partnership the City of Racine, YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, Racine Unified School District, Gateway Technical College, Racine County, and Higher Expectations for Racine County teamed up to expand the YWCA's high school equivalency diploma program.
"We keep hearing about the workforce shortage that’s there, there’s a real job training problem that we have here. We have people that are looking for jobs, but they don’t necessarily have the skills that they need to do those jobs. A high school diploma is the most important first step that people can take as adults to do that," said Racine Mayor Cory Mason.
The semester-long course shows competency through schoolwork, assignments and projects. Completing the program and getting an HSED certification provides opportunities for those without traditional diplomas.
"The students go from only being offered very few amount of jobs that are rotating and not often stable to family sustainable wage opportunities," said Jake Gorges, Education Director for YWCA Wisconsin.
Expanding the program gives more adults another shot at success.
Overwhelmed with joy, 22-year-old Star Davis got emotional during her graduation ceremony last week. She has aspiration sof becoming a lawyer.
"This day is the day I've been looking forward to for so long. I'm just so happy I'm here," Davis said.
The expanded cohort of students started this fall. Because of that expansion, Rekita Williams can get her HSED.
Williams is a single mother of three and grandmother of two. She said the realization her computer and technology skills were behind convinced her it was time to go back to school.
"When I had my first day they were taking pictures like it's mom's first day of school," Williams said.
The opportunity can "blossom and take you places that you can't even imagine," she said.
As the program continues to be offered to more residents, it's lifting the community one diploma at a time. For more information on the program, click here.