New program helps Coloradans earn high school diploma

Digital Now

COLORADO SPRINGS — Turner Rivera is looking to make a change in his life.

At 27 years old, he’s finally getting his high school diploma.

“It’s a lot for me to learn again because I’ve been out of school for almost 10 years, oh this year is going to be 10 years,” Rivera said.

Rivera dropped out after repeating the 10th grade, but now he wants to build a better future for his three kids.

“I don’t want them looking at me as a dropout and me not having my diploma, and not being a role model for them. So, me getting that is going to make me look good in their eyes,” Rivera said.

According to Graduation Alliance, he’s just one of 324,000 Coloradans without a high school diploma.

Graduation Alliance says every drop out has a different story.

“So, things like a death in the family, them getting ill themselves, being in a car crash, having parents who get ill and they now need to be a primary breadwinner for the family. I mean, a whole host of types of issues happen to people when they’re in high school, then they run out of time,” said Greg Harp, Chief Development Officer for Graduation Alliance.

The Workforce Diploma Pilot Program will help more Coloradans earn their diploma, as well as certifications for certain industries.

“With it, you can get a good job, without it you can’t really get good jobs. And I want to go to school to be an ultrasound technician,” River said.

“People can’t get sustainable wage jobs if they don’t have a high school diploma. And so, this really is the first step to helping them get both the high school diploma and administered credential so they can get a sustainable wage job,” Harp said.

Since its launch in Colorado in December, nearly a hundred students are signed up.

Graduation Alliance says the program is an investment in people, lowering costs for the state overall.

“Number one, people who don’t have a high school diploma tend to use Medicaid far more often, they tend to use food stamps far more often, they tend to have more interaction with police and being incarcerated, and they’re costs associated with that. People make less money so, therefore, they put in less taxes, so that’s a cost as well,” Harp said.

Rivera has already completed six classes and is looking forward to his future.

“It’s never too late to get your diploma you know, if you drop out and you feel like you can’t like you wasted a lot of time, it’s never too late. You can get it whenever, when you’re 50, 60, whenever. So, just never give up. Always keep yourself positive and motivated and you can get it,” Rivera said.

Here are the requirements to enroll in the Workforce Diploma Pilot Program:

You must be a resident of Colorado age 21 or older, have completed at least some of 10th grade, have not obtained a GED or other high school credential, and have internet access.

Click here to learn more about the program.

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