Working for the Future Video

Helping America’s dropouts attain college and career readiness requires new thinking about high school equivalency and post-secondary education. As a result, community colleges and other institutions are changing. The expanded segments in this program are:

City Colleges of Chicago is a network of community colleges that has created numerous innovative programs to help the city’s dropouts continue their education. (Some 42,000 Chicagoans between the ages of 19 and 24 lack a high school diploma.) For example, the College Success Seminar improves outcomes for under-prepared students, including many with high school equivalencies. Part of the segment will be a profile of a remarkable young couple, Nanci Bautista and Marco Salse, who came into the United States from Mexico as children. They dropped out of school partly because education seemed pointless: as undocumented immigrants, their job opportunities would always be limited. That changed when a federal program was announced that would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to receive legal residency status. One requirement of the program, though, was that participants must have a high school diploma or high school equivalency. That was all the encouragement this couple needed. Studying together, they earned their high school equivalencies through a City Colleges of Chicago program in 2013 and are enrolled in the college’s Gateway program, which provides academic and financial assistance to degree-seeking students with demonstrated ability. Marco plans to pursue a career in a technology field. Nanci hopes to become a teacher.

Academy for College Excellence, located at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California, is a one-semester program developed to assist under-prepared college students. Nationwide, retention and completion rates for community college students are quite low. A majority of Cabrillo’s ACE students come from low-income communities. Many have dropped out of high school, been incarcerated, or spent time in drug rehabilitation programs. These non-traditional students would be much more likely than the average student to give up on college. Founder Diego Navarro (whose background includes training executives for Hewlett-Packard) describes the program’s goal as “lighting the fire” to learn in a group of students that would normally be the least likely to succeed in post-secondary education. The centerpiece of the semester’s curriculum is a social justice research project in which the students, as a group, research and choose a topic, create a list of questions, conduct one-on-one interviews in their community, analyze results, create a report, and do a public presentation of their findings. Studies by Columbia University and California Community Colleges document the program’s impressive success.

The Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota is an award-winning institution focused on educating students so they can get a job upon graduation. Instructors are in regular, weekly, sometimes daily, contact with local business and industry to ensure what they’re teaching aligns to industry needs. Classes are small, interactive, and hands-on, and students receive career guidance from day one. And they are successful—98 percent of LATI graduates are employed or continuing their education.

Also appearing on Working for the Future:

  • Greg Mathis, GED® graduate and former district court judge in Detroit, Michigan; star of syndicated TV program Judge Mathis, taped in Chicago, Illinois
  • Kellie Blair Hardt, GED® graduate, currently a special education teacher, Rippon Middle School in Woodbridge, Virginia
  • Ebony Nava, GED® graduate and community college student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Lecester Johnson, executive director, Academy of Hope Adult Education Center, Washington D.C.
  • Cheryl Hyman, chancellor, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Victor Rios, former dropout and gang member, currently a Professor of Sociology at University of California Santa Barbara, author of Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys
  • Stephen Rose, economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Washington, D.C.
  • Candice Riehl, certified midwife, Mayfield, Kentucky
  • Josh Wyner, director of higher education programs, Aspen Institute, Washington D.C.
  • Russell Rumberger, professor of education, University of California Santa Barbara and author of Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It
  • Yancey Lashley, teacher, Kennedy King College, City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois
  • Sameer Gadkaree, associate vice chancellor, adult education, City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois
  • Andrea Kay, career consultant, author, and syndicated columnist, Northern Kentucky
  • Hasan Davis, former dropout, youth advocate and former Kentucky Commissioner of Juvenile Justice
  • Victoria Banales, teacher, Cabrillo Community College, Aptos, California
  • Francesca Lopez, student, Cabrillo Community College, Aptos, California
  • Paul Maartense, student, Cabrillo Community College, Aptos, California
  • Steven Brown, student, Cabrillo Community College, Aptos, California
  • Deb Shepard, president, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Ross Keiffer, student, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Scott Kulesa, manager, C&B Operations, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Steve Henningsgaard, instructor, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Dillan Sando, student, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Tara Parmely, student, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota
  • Jim Clendenin, instructor and department head, Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, South Dakota

Fast Forward: College and Career Ready

The path to success in gaining a GED® and career readiness can be found in Fast Forward: College and Career Ready — an innovative, highly effective, multi-platform learning system created by KET (Kentucky Educational Television.)

The Fast Forward learning system helps students get ahead with in-depth online courses in language arts, math, science, and social studies, as well as professional development resources for adult educators.

Learn more at

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