A Chance for Dropouts, Young and Old, to Go Back to School


Earlier this month, the New York Times profiled Excel Center students, teachers, and the Goodwill representatives that oversee the schools on the impact the program has had on improving the lives of adults with low-incomes seeking a high school education. Betsy Delgado, Ascend Fellow and vice president for mission and education initiatives at Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, and her staff oversee a program that has been transformative for the adult learners who go through it. Excel Centers provide tuition-free education, life coaches, onsite childcare, transportation assistance, and other benefits to make the process of earning a diploma as painless and rewarding as possible. The wraparound support offered by Excel Center schools is unique, and has a sustaining, significant impact on the families that participate.

With bipartisan support and a growing number of schools—Excel Center has a presence in Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and soon, Missouri—this program has shown its capacity for successful scale. For more lessons and best practices on taking promising programs to scale, read our fellow-authored publication, Scaling Up, Scaling Out, co-written by Delgado and then president and CEO of Nurse-Family Partnership Roxane White. White, also an Ascend Fellow is currently the Morgridge Innovator in Residence at Ascend at the Aspen Institute.