News headlines constantly remind us how many young people’s lives are being ruined by drug-addicted, unemployed, or impoverished parents. Other stories focus on the teens’ own problems, frequently born of a need to connect with others. Some teens become unwed parents, addicted to drugs or alcohol -- or drop out of high school long before graduation. In many cases, these young people have had to shoulder adult-responsibilities far too early due to tragedy.                               

Fortunately, a Georgia company named Southwire has found a way to help local teenagers earn wages while completing high school. This program called 12 for Life also helps the company increase its productivity and profits. Forbes magazine’s August 18, 2014 issue features an article on Southwire and these young workers. The magazine aptly refers to the company’s program as a “unique experiment at the intersection of industry and education that’s fast becoming a model for cities and towns nationwide.”                                                                                            

Additional Facts Concerning the Creation of This Program and How it Works

At first, this privately-held company concentrated on providing tuition-reimbursement programs to its workers and made large donations to area universities. However, Southwire soon learned that young people often need critical help just to finish high school. Far too often, some of the teens they’ve employed once had to sleep in family cars and didn’t always have enough food to eat.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

As this manufacturing company (which makes electrical wire, cable and cord) states on its website, “One in three students starting first grade in a Carroll County, Georgia classroom this fall will not graduate. . . [Hoping to turn this situation around], Southwire and the Carroll County School System are working together on 12 for Life, an innovative program that seeks to place at-risk students in real jobs . . . while earning credit toward a diploma.”                                                                     

Once enrolled in this program, teens typically work four-hour shifts and earn about $8 an hour. They spend the remainder of their day attending classes and completing their school work. If they skip their classes, they can lose their jobs.                                                                                             

How This Program is Creating Better Futures for Many—And Might Help Others                                                              

As a result of this program, the local school district’s dropout rate has dropped from 35% to just 22%. Furthermore, 40% of those who complete 12 for Life go on to college. According to the Forbes magazine article, “Georgia hopes to spur other manufacturers to help replicate this success across the state . . .” Southwire continues to field phone calls from many other companies interested in starting similar programs – so that students elsewhere in Georgia and all around the country can obtain the help they truly need.                                                                                     

If the U. S. Department of Education will directly take the lead and encourage companies across America to start similar programs, perhaps by offering them special tax incentives, every school district with a serious high school drop-out rats can reap similar benefits.                                           

Hopefully, since this program has increased Southwire’s profits and provides the company with a very positive public relations profile, it will eventually raise the hourly wages it pays these kids so that even more of them can afford to obtain college educations.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact Shane Smith Law today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
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