Four major employers, two nonprofits and two education partners commit to initiative
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 22, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Everybody Counts, a new program that will help every Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) graduate who doesn’t currently have a plan for after high school graduation to secure one of three pathways: a job at one of four companies, post-secondary enrollment or both.
The program will begin this school year and will be in place to assist the class of 2022.
“Every young adult in Kentucky counts. We want to do everything we can to ensure each one of these graduating seniors is on a path for success – a path that can change in the future if their goals change,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are at a unique moment in time. There’s never been more opportunity to get higher education and training, and for the first time in my lifetime we have more jobs than people to fill them. We want to give these students a chance to select that path they want to be on before they graduate.”
The four participating partner companies are Ford Motor Company, GE Appliances, Kroger and UPS. Nonprofit, higher education and labor partners supporting Everybody Counts include Evolve502, the Louisville Urban League, Simmons College of Kentucky and UAW Local 862.
The Everybody Counts partners’ goal is to have materials ready for every student on or before Feb. 1, 2022. The materials will include information on higher education options and funding, as well as concrete job opportunities with these great companies – jobs that can start soon after graduation and which will continue to present educational opportunities through employment.
The Governor said the Jefferson County program can serve as a launching pad to expand similar initiatives across the commonwealth.
“Gov. Beshear has consistently put education first, and the Everybody Counts initiative with JCPS takes that commitment to the next level,” said Congressman John Yarmuth. “This program will help thousands of young people bridge the gap between high school graduation and a meaningful career or continued education. This is an incredible opportunity for young Kentuckians and our entire commonwealth. I thank Gov. Beshear for his extraordinary vision in implementing this remarkable project, and for showing our students they aren’t just leaders of tomorrow, they can be our leaders today.”
“In a thriving city, every young adult has a path to a fulfilling life,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We’re grateful to Gov. Beshear for bringing partners, including Louisville Metro Government and JCPS, together to further strengthen the systems that meet the needs of young people on their journey to careers. This has been a focus from the start of my administration with our work on Cradle to Career, 55,000 Degrees and now Evolve502, and we look forward to Everybody Counts further enhancing opportunities for Louisville’s young people.”
“It’s important to know there aren’t just two pathways – college or career – but now it can be college and career for every JCPS student,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of JCPS. “This is a game changer and I am so excited to know the students of JCPS have an opportunity for college and career like no other district across America.”
Rev. Dr. Corrie Shull, senior pastor at Burnett Avenue Baptist Church and vice chair of the JCPS Board of Education; Pleasure Ridge Park High School (PRPHS) Principal Sheri Duff; PRPHS student Mady Searcy; and Fairdale High School student Kali Berry also represented JCPS during the press conference.
“There is value in every single one of these young adults. We are trying something big here on Team Kentucky,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. “And we are going to have more students in these pathways to build their futures than ever before. In talking to our employers, we’ve been really encouraged by the quality and variety of programs that you have ready for these graduates, and I hope this partnership will encourage even more.”
Everybody Counts will help match graduates looking for jobs in the commonwealth with employers actively looking for young Kentuckians to fill roles within their companies.
“We are proud to be part of this important initiative giving Louisville high school students a stronger connection to good paying jobs at Louisville companies,” said Joe Bobnar, director of manufacturing, Ford Motor Company. “We applaud Gov. Beshear for his leadership in convening this great group of government, civic, industry and educational partners in helping provide students with increased options for a successful future.”
“Gov. Beshear’s plan shines a light on students who may need more attention and support as they prepare to leave high school,” said Kevin Nolan, president and chief executive officer of GE Appliances. “It comes at a critical time. Despite the success of existing talent attraction programs, too many recent graduates can’t see a future. And too many Kentucky jobs go unfilled. We look forward to working with Everybody Counts to highlight our work-to-college programs, improve opportunities for entry-level manufacturing positions and find ways to better connect these young people with the futures they deserve.”
“At Kroger, our purpose is to feed the human spirit by serving the communities where we operate. It’s an exciting time to work in grocery retail, and as one of the leading retailers and employers in America, we’re committed to offering associates a culture of opportunity and a career with purpose, competitive pay, benefits and flexible schedules. We truly want our associates to have a rewarding and uplifting experience while meeting our customers’ needs and delivering on our promise to be friendly, fresh and full,” said Ann Reed, Louisville division president for Kroger. “We know that a career looks different for everyone, so we strive to provide the tools and support associates need to create their own path to success. We have so many opportunities for success at Kroger, and just like me, you can come for a job and stay for a career.”
“This program is a win-win-win for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and City of Louisville, students and employers,” said Tony Georges, vice president of human resources at UPS. “UPS has had tremendous success working with the products of our local educational institutions for many years, and we look forward to continuing that successful talent pipeline for the foreseeable future as a result of today’s announcement.”
“It is Evolve502’s vision to ensure that every child in Louisville is prepared for college, career and a successful, productive life. Education and workforce training is at the foundation of that preparation, opening doors to lifelong careers and increased lifetime earnings,” said Evolve502 Executive Director Marland Cole. “As we work to provide a generation of JCPS students the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary degree, workforce credential or certificate, we welcome a partnership with our major employers to provide pathways for our scholars and other JCPS students to careers that will allow them to reach their full potential and in many instances, break the cycle of poverty for their families.”
“Opportunity is its own form of wealth, and the more opportunity we can provide young people in Kentucky, the greater chance of them being successful for generations,” said Sadiqa Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of the Louisville Urban League. “This bold step will ensure that every child can count on a share of hope and prosperity.”
“Victor Hugo said that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” said Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, president of Simmons College of Kentucky. “The dream of having young people fully employed into good paying jobs is an idea that will fulfill the dreams of many aspiring youth throughout our commonwealth. When we work together, no dream is too extreme.”
“The governor’s program is not only one that provides an opportunity for a clear path to a promising future for graduating seniors, but it’s a tangible gesture that says that all of our young people count,” said Rev. Dr. F. Bruce Williams, senior pastor, Bates Memorial Baptist Church. “This is a wise, creative, clear-headed and credible investment in our future!”
For more information on Everybody Counts visit https://governor.ky.gov/Everybody-Counts.