INDIANAPOLIS — Rayschell Capps says her biggest motivation is her son.
“Right now, he’s in kindergarten,” she said, “and I want to show him that if mommy can do it, you can do it.”
Capps dropped out of high school at 18. After having her son in 2015, she later decided to go back.
“Working at a restaurant, and then working at retail, it was just not cutting it,” she said. “I said, I’m just going back to school.”
“It was a lot easier, it was on my time,” Capps said. “I have a son, so it was kind of like I can’t go back to school, but I can actually do it at home.”
Completely funded by the state, convenience and costs are selling points for the program. Hoosiers, older than 22, can enroll and finish their education for free and on their own time.
“Life starts to escalate, right? You have kids, you have jobs, and so part of our program is can we create flexibility,” said Chief Development Officer Greg Harp.
Graduation Alliance is nationally recognized and offered in several states. Harp says the program has been around in Indiana for about three years. That’s after its approval from the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.
The program is completely online, providing students with easy access to tutoring, academic coaches, teachers and other resources at their fingertips.
Along with achieving a high school diploma or GED, students can also earn career credentials to help secure better paying jobs after completion.
“Being able to change someone’s life from working a job that probably doesn’t have benefits, probably doesn’t have a 401K, and then moving them into a sector, where they do have those benefits, have a lot of advantages,” Harp said, “and then also, as part of the program, everyone learns how to use those benefits.”
“We have financial literacy courses in there that so once you get that job, you now know how to use the 401K, you know how to use health insurance, so that you take advantage of those things,” Harp added.
Within its several years in operation, Harp says the program averages around a 70 percent overall graduation rate with most students finishing within six to eight months. However, students also have up to two years to complete the program, depending on the amount of credits left when they start.
Harp says the program is more than just finishing your high school education, it also unlocks life changing opportunities.
“Over the course of a lifetime, someone who has a high school diploma will earn $270,000 more than someone who doesn’t,” said Harp, “and so even if you’re 40, and you earn half of that, that’s still a significant amount of money and that doesn’t even count health insurance savings and the 401K pieces.”
For Capps, she’s already on her way to achieving her career goals. Right now, she’s working as a CNA and plans to attend school to be a pediatrician, a dream she’s one step closer to thanks to Graduation Alliance and its program.
“I’m actually proud of myself that I pushed through it, and I did I what I wanted to do,” said Capps.