Goodwill to establish tuition-free high school for adults, the first of its kind in Kentucky

(PRESS RELEASE) LOUISVILLE, KY. – Today, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky announced plans to open a one-of-a-kind tuition-free, public high school for adults in the fall of 2022.

Operated by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, The Excel Center® will help Kentuckians 18-years-old or older who have dropped out of high school earn their diplomas and other industry-recognized certifications in a unique environment that caters to the life demands they now face as adults.

As the first of its kind in Kentucky, the Excel Center® will provide flexible eight-week class schedules, free on-site childcare, transportation assistance, industry-recognized certification options and career counselors who will help graduates transition into college or meaningful careers.

“Our mission at Goodwill is to help Kentucky’s hardest-to-serve jobseekers find pathways out of poverty by removing the barriers that prevent them from finding and keeping good quality jobs,” said Amy Luttrell, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky. “Providing an opportunity for adults to earn their high school diplomas through our Excel Center will position thousands of Kentuckians to build brighter futures for themselves and their families.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 328,000 working-age adults in Kentucky lack a high school diploma. To help improve education attainment levels in the commonwealth, Governor Andy Beshear and state legislators committed $1 million to help start the adult high school.

The concept of The Excel Center® was initiated by Goodwill Education Initiatives, Inc., a not-for-profit organization formed by Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana. Since the first Excel Center began operating in Indianapolis in 2010, 31 schools now operate in six states and Washington DC. Collectively, they have graduated more than 8,000 students, provided more than 6,700 industry-recognized certifications, and 99% of all graduates earned college credits or industry-recognized certifications. Graduates see an estimated 280% increase in average wages one year after graduation.

“The Excel Center is a first-of-its-kind high school that will not only educate Kentuckians but will offer services to address people’s greatest barriers to education,” said Jacqueline Coleman, Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of the Education & Workforce Development Cabinet. “If we truly want to help our neighbors earn their diploma, we need accommodations like flexible class schedules, free on-site childcare and transportation assistance. That is what the Excel Center will provide to every single Kentuckian looking to make a difference for themselves and for their families.”

The adult high school will operate in a 15,000 square-foot section of a former shopping center at 6201 Preston Highway in Louisville that Goodwill Industries of Kentucky purchased earlier this year. It will accommodate up to 350 students at any given time who will also have full access to an array of workforce programs and services currently offered by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

“The pandemic and the state’s response to it have had a major impact on our workforce and jobs. More than ever it is critical that we work to overcome these challenges,” said David Osborne, Speaker of Kentucky’s House of Representatives. “The Excel Center will provide programing that eliminates many of the barriers to employment, including child care and transportation. This holistic approach will have a positive impact on our workforce and provide invaluable resources to Kentuckians who are ready and willing to seek employment.”

Kentucky students who graduate from the Excel Center are expected to experience many of the same benefits other graduates experience throughout the nation. They include:

  • Excel Center graduates are less likely to be incarcerated than the average high school dropout nationally
  • Released inmates who graduate from an Excel Center are 43% less like to be re-incarcerated
  • African-American Excel Center graduates are 71% less likely to be incarcerated than the average African-American male high school dropout nationally
  • 38% of all graduates are enrolled in post-secondary education and 76% have a two-year persistency rate
  • 70% of all graduates are employed and have a 50% wage increase in six months after graduation

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky is expected to operate the Excel Center as a pilot educational program. If the model proves successful, the statewide nonprofit organization plans to pursue resources to open additional schools throughout Kentucky.