Jobs for Maine’s Graduates is a proven model for college degree completion
AUGUSTA – A measure to increase Maine’s retention and degree attainment rate was unanimously supported by the state’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee today.
The bill LD 215, “An Act To Improve Student Retention in Maine’s Postsecondary Institutions,” would improve student performance and reduce the amount of time to degree completion by expanding the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates’ (JMG) school-to-career transition model to postsecondary institutions.
“JMG is the right partner for Maine college and university campuses to help meet the needs of some of our highest risk students and help them increase their chance at success in college,” said State Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, the bill’s sponsor.
Eligible students must have previously been enrolled in a JMG high school program, been in or currently in foster care, or older youth who have earned a high school equivalency diploma within the five years prior to obtaining these services.
The measure has received resounding support from higher education leaders, the Maine State Chamber, students, Governor LePage’s Commissioner of Education, and the Maine Development Fund.
During the public hearing, Nicole Padilla, a JMG Thomas College student from Milo said, “I am living proof that JMG really does believe in Maine students. At my lowest point, when I didn’t think I could afford to return to college, JMG was there to bring me back up, once more.”
Padilla also participated in JMG’s program at Penquis Valley High School. During her testimony she said, “When I thought of furthering my education at Thomas College, I was scared. I thought I’d have to face college alone. But when I was informed that Thomas had the first ever college JMG program, I was ecstatic.”
Beginning in the fall semester of 2014, Thomas College and JMG created a pilot program, funded by the Unity Foundation, to continue to provide the personal guidance and support offered by JMG at middle and high schools.
Senator Alfond added, “JMG students are a success story across Maine’s middle and high schools. And now, as Maine tackles this issue of degree completion, it only makes sense that we would build upon a proven model and existing relationships.”
The bill directs JMG’s to provide mentoring and counseling services, course guidance and graduation planning, peer support services and financial guidance to students and at Maine’s post-secondary institutions.
Student mentoring and counseling: A JMG Specialist will monitor student progress, including academic performance as well as connection to campus life.
Course guidance and development of a graduation plan: An individualized plan of action will be developed for each student, in consideration of academic needs, academic support, and self-assessment.
Peer-to-Peer Support: Staff will develop opportunities for peer-to-peer mentoring, including an alumni cohort approach as new youth are enrolled and leadership opportunities and connections to community resources
Financial guidance: Students will be provided with navigational support to ensure a financial plan that maximizes all financial aid available to a student, including problems solving with short-term coverage emergencies such as alternative transportation, changes in housing arrangements, unexpected books or additional supplies needed for a course.
The bill will now go to the Maine Senate for further consideration.