COLUMBUS GA - When it comes to graduation rates, Hispanics fall in line with some of the lowest numbers in the country.
A local program is looking to turn that around and help move more into high quality jobs. The Goodwill initiative known as the Hispanic Youth Program for Employment (HYPE) is a four week summer course created to address the Hispanic dropout rate.
The U.S. Census reports that 14 percent of Hispanic students drop out of high school higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Goodwill says part of the reason Hispanic students drop out, is to go to work earlier to help support their families.
"Our goal is to help individuals realize that they can move not just through their education, not just to employment opportunities but from a Hispanic perspective and just overall to move into additional leadership positions so that they can have more influence in the community," says Jane Seckinger, Goodwill Industries President and CEO.
Students of all ages received nationally accredited certificates Friday morning from Columbus Technical College. Within the four week program, students learn about employment opportunities, communication skills, team skills and how to develop their natural abilities.
The customer service certification gives students the option to gain employment in the summer, after high school and even into college.
"The caliber of the student in the class is phenomenal. They have an amazing future and they have choices in their future," said Seckinger.
Although the Muscogee County Hispanic student graduation rates are higher than the state average, they are still lower than rates for white students
"Education is the key to success. There are always opportunities to learn and keep growing within yourself," said Jonathan Cabrera, a graduate of HYPE.