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Successful Milwaukee program expands to help adults in rural counties earn high school diplomas

Posted at 5:21 AM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 09:53:07-05

RACINE, Wis. — It is never too late to get your high school diploma, no matter where you live.

In our Two Americas series, we show you how non-profit YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin and Gateway Technical College landed a $5.6 million grant to get more diplomas in the hands of people in Walworth, Racine, and Kenosha Counties.


Kalies Majors is part of the latest class to graduate with her high school equivalency degree, three weeks after delivering her baby boy, Grayson.

“I was tired of making excuses. My son was that final push," Majors said.

She went through four years of school in four months, through a program at YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. Gateway Technical College Racine Campus instructors helped teach classes with the non-profit since 2017.


“They were very patient and understanding,” said Kalies.

“Oftentimes there's this misconception that students are sitting around not doing anything, but many of our students are working, many of our students have families, they have lives outside of school,” said Cyndean Jennings of Gateway Technical College.


Because of the pandemic, Jennings says the program reached more people than ever online.

“Students are now bringing sisters into the program, mothers into the program, husbands and wives are coming into the program.”


To date, Gateway and YWCA’s collaboration has helped nearly 500 people graduate. State leaders took notice, and awarded them $5.6 million to keep going.

“We expect over the next three years to serve 1,300 people in Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties,” said Jennifer de Montmollin of YWCA SEW.


The outcomes are remarkable, according to de Montmollin. A study YWCA just conducted showed that out of 127 recent graduates interviewed, 90 percent indicated plans to go on to post-secondary education.

de Montmollin added, “Even more important than that, is to note that over 51 percent already have.”

This includes Kalies, who said, “I'm a CNA right now, I want to be a registered nurse within the next two years.”

“To take it to the next level is absolutely thrilling for us, we know we're going to impact so many more lives,” said de Montmollin.

The grant also includes another organization coming to the table: Southeast Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. Navigators there plan to help employers reach future graduates.

To learn more about YWCA SEW’s high school equivalency diploma program, click here.

WEB EXTRA: Play video below to learn about the new way to get into high school equivalency program, without needing to take a test:

Successful Milwaukee program expands to help rural counties get more adults diplomas

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