Goodwill breaks ground on adult high school in Phoenix

Mar 16, 2022, 4:45 AM

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)...

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona broke ground Tuesday on a center that will give adults a second chance to earn a high school diploma.

The tuition-free Excel Center opening this summer will be located near 48th Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix. In addition to offering a full high school curriculum, the center will allow students ages 18 and older to get college credit and workforce credentials.

Students will also be able to access additional resources, such as free childcare and transportation.

“Arizona is one of the states that has the most need for something like this,” Tim O’Neill, president and CEO of Goodwill, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

He noted more than 700,000 adults in Arizona do not have a high school diploma and would benefit from this new high school.

The idea for it is not new. Indiana opened Goodwill’s first Excel Center more than a decade ago. Several others have since opened in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

O’Neill visited the Excel Center in Indiana recently and heard from students, whom he said were “displaced from education in some way shape or form simply because of life circumstances.”

“When you see this in person, you absolutely cannot stop yourself from tearing up,” he said. “The stories of the way these people have pulled themselves out of poverty to be the best version of themselves they can be are truly miraculous.”

Gov. Doug Ducey was also at the groundbreaking ceremony.

His office in August announced $12 million in funding for the Excel Center as part of a $64.9 million investment of state and federal funds to improve K-12 literacy, support adult education and expand teacher professional development.

“In the five states with Excel Centers, 97% of students have graduated with workforce credentials, certifications or college credits,” Ducey said. “So this is not only an exciting opportunity for these Arizonans, it’s critical for our growing economy.”

He also pointed to a study that found Excel Center students in Arizona will see an average annual wage increase of more than $17,000 — or more than $8 an hour.

Goodwill is looking to hire teachers for when the Excel Center opens this summer. Enrollment has not yet started.

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Goodwill breaks ground on adult high school in Phoenix