Fairdale High School student Kali Berry and Pleasure Ridge Park High School student Madi Searcy spoke after the announcement of the Everyone Counts initiative.

Fairdale High School student Kali Berry, left, and Pleasure Ridge Park High School student Madi Searcy spoke after the announcement of the Everyone Counts initiative. Berry said the program will help her get into college to pursue a career in social work and graduate with less debt.

(FRANKFORT, KY) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Nov. 22 the launch of the new Everybody Counts program that will help every Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) graduate who doesn’t currently have a plan for after graduation to secure one of three pathways: a job, postsecondary education or both.

Four major employers, two local nonprofits and two education partners are committed to the initiative. The four participating partner companies include Ford Motor Co., GE Appliances, Kroger and UPS. Additional community partners include Evolve502, the Louisville Urban League, Simmons College of Kentucky and UAW Local 862.

“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 Beshear.

The program will be in place to assist the class of 2022. The 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 job opportunities that are available to students after graduation and jobs that will continue to offer additional educational opportunities through employment.

“This 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 and winner of the 2020 Kelly Award for Business and Education Partnership from the Kentucky Board of Education. “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.”

Everybody Counts will help match graduates looking for jobs in the Commonwealth with employers actively looking to fill roles within their companies.

“As we work to provide a generation of JCPS students the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary 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,” said Evolve502 Executive Director Marland Cole.

JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio said that it’s a momentous time for JCPS students.

“I think it’s important to know that we must make sure that there are not just two pathways, that it’s college or career. The fantastic part about this initiative is that it can be college and career,” said Pollio.

Pleasure Ridge Park High School senior Mady Searcy said she feels that many students don’t get the opportunity to attend college because they feel that they don’t have value and wouldn’t make an impact. However, she believes that will change with this initiative.

“As a student in JCPS, I believe that all of us have the opportunity to excel in whatever we would like to do. I think that Everybody Counts will make a huge impact on not only students in the class of 2021 and 2022, but it will make a difference throughout JCPS. I can’t wait to see this project grow,” said Searcy.

Fairdale High School senior Kali Berry said the program could help her get into college and come out with less debt.

“I plan to attend the University of Louisville and pursue a career in social work. I’ve always wanted to help kids,” Berry said.

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Department of Education launched United We Learn, a collective effort to ensure a quality and equitable learning experience for all students and to give them the learning experiences they need and deserve. That initiative also prioritizes investing in Kentucky’s future by making sure students are prepared and have the opportunity to develop the skills that will make them successful workers, entrepreneurs, community leaders and citizens.