Last week OVAE hosted several visitors from the 12 for Life program to learn more about their innovative education, training and employment program aimed at vulnerable youth in Carrollton, GA and Florence, AL. The program, which was developed by Southwire in 2007 to address the interrelated dropout and skills crises among youth in Georgia, targets many of the most vulnerable youth who are at the greatest risk of not completing high school. Southwire partners with the Carroll County School District to re-engage these youth and provide them with employment opportunities at Southwire manufacturing plants, education, mentoring, and life skills training, guiding them through to high school graduation and beyond.
Mike Wiggins, Executive Vice President for Human Resources at Southwire and the creator of 12 for Life, notes the program has seen very strong outcomes with a population that has historically been difficult to serve, helping over 300 students earn high school diplomas in the first five years of the program. Mr. Wiggins added that about 40 percent of the program graduates have gone on to postsecondary education and training, which is especially remarkable considering most of the participants in 12 for Life programs are at a high risk of not even completing high school. According to Mr. Wiggins, the work-based learning model employed by 12 for Life is one that needs to be scaled up across the country. More employers can be engaged to partner with local school systems to offer meaningful employment and training opportunities that engage youth, contextualize their classroom learning, and facilitate the acquisition of valuable life and career skills.
Picture of several OVAE staff with representatives from 12 for Life.