Life skills program for students to get major funding cut

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Jobs for America’s Graduates of Kansas program (JAG) offers classes in schools across the state. The courses help prepare students for life beyond high school.

“It teaches you how to get a job, once you get a job it teaches you how to keep one, and if you need to quit it teaches you how to do that properly,” explained Cassidy Brunin, a JAG student. “It also teaches you how to budget, how to look for homes, pretty much life skills.”

Brunin started high school struggling.

“My grades were awful,” she admitted.

But that made her a great candidate to join the JAG program at her school. She says this completely changed her life path.

“It was just like a family-like environment and they really helped me with school, they really helped me with my grades, and they’re just really good to talk to,” said Brunin.

She’s now a senior in high school and the vice president of her school’s JAG program. She has been accepted to nine colleges with scholarships. But the program is not just for future college students. The program teaches hands-on skills for any post-high school career.

“Our job, our passion, is to help those students identify that path that meets their goals and their definition of success,” explained Chuck Knapp, President and CEO of Jobs for America’s Graduates of Kansas.

But the Kansas JAG programs are at risk. The federal government will cut the grant that funds a large portion of the programs by 50% in July of 2020. Each JAG school program costs about $73,000 to fund.

The hope is that with bipartisan support in the Kansas legislature and with Governor Kelly now serving on the National JAG Board, the funding won’t be lost.

“The legislature, they have been incredibly supportive on a bipartisan basis,” said Knapp. “So, we’re having a lot of conversations about how to fill that funding gap. I feel very confident that it will get filled, we just have to go through the process.”

Representatives from the Kansas JAG program hope the funding will be allocated to maintain the programs currently in place, however, additional funding would be needed for new programs.

“We also have a waiting list of districts that would like a JAG-K program and even our existing districts would like more,” said Knapp.

For Cassidy, the JAG program was a life-changer and she recommends it for any student.

“It teaches kids how to be better versions of themselves,” she said.

To learn more about JAG Kansas click here.

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