A longstanding tradition at Learn4Life is when a student turns in his or her final assignment, their teacher loudly rings a bell to signify another new graduate. All the other students cheer and offer congratulations. Because Learn4Life students work at their own pace, graduations happen throughout the year.

Learn4Life celebrated its 20,000th graduate this week. Founded in 2001 with just 30 students, it now serves more than 49,000 students per year across 85 locations in California, Ohio and Michigan. Most students come to Learn4Life at age 17, lacking more than 70 credits and reading at a fifth-grade level. Eighty-two percent are socio-economically disadvantaged.

Learn4Life students work at their own pace, so graduations happen throughout the year. Each time a student completes their final credit, their supervising teacher rings a bell to announce they have just graduated high school. It’s usually an emotional moment with everyone in the center applauding the triumph.

Some students likely have to overcome multiple obstacles to earn that high school diploma. Whether needing to work a full-time job, parenting, hunger, homelessness or being in foster care Innovation’s personalized learning model provides the extra support they need.

“Most of our students don’t fit the traditional school model because of obstacles such as needing to work, or parenting their siblings or their own children,” explained Caprice Young, national superintendent. “Some are homeless, are in foster care, have learning disabilities or were bullied at their previous school.”

Through Learn4Life’s unique model of one-on-one attention, personalized learning, flexibility and job skills training, all enhanced with trauma-informed practices, 90 percent of Learn4Life students are successful by either graduating or catching up on credits and returning to their traditional school for graduation. Nearly half enroll in post-secondary education after graduating from Learn4Life.

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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