City of Atlanta Workforce Area Next Step…Atlanta’s Promise

In January 2005, Mayor Shirley Franklin announced that she was adopting the 2005 senior class of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) System. She pledged to work with the class to ensure a positive transition for each and every student from high school graduation into young adulthood. Students would be provided with the opportunity to pursue their dreams for postsecondary education, training, or meaningful employment through the development and implementation of an individualized Next Step plan for their future. Their next step would be successful... Under the Mayor’s inspired leadership, a team was formed to design and implement the Next Step pilot program: the Mayor, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA), and the Atlanta business community who answered the Mayor’s call when she requested their support and financial contributions. The Mayor began visiting every Atlanta public high school in January to outline the Next Step program to each senior class. She told them she was there to help them define and reach their goals if they wanted to attend a two or four-year college, a technical school, or needed part- or full-time, meaningful employment. By May, each APS senior had been given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the Mayor. The only requirements for participation in Next Step were to show up and be proactively engaged with the Mayor and the staff, to obey the law and stay out of jail, and to stay drug free and pass a drug test. Those who chose to follow these three simple rules found their lives changed forever. Through counseling and engagement with staff and volunteers, individual service plans were developed, application and financial aid assistance was provided, graduation fees were paid, problems were immediately addressed, and calls and letters of advocacy went out to countless college presidents. Oftentimes, unmet needs that prevented students from pursuing postsecondary education were discovered - perhaps the sum of $300, room and board, a laptop computer, the crucial last $5,000 needed for tuition, or simply someone to listen and discuss possibilities. One by one, each student’s unmet needs were computed and met. By August, an amazing $1.9 million had been pledged, 392 students had become gainfully employed, and 391 students received financial assistance enabling them to continue their education at 91 colleges and technical schools. The Class of 2005 successfully matriculated into the young adult world! APS students were given hope where there was no hope and a chance to secure their future by following their dreams - as their future is the future of Atlanta. The decision was made to integrate Next Step…Atlanta’s Promise directly into the existing youth programs of the AWDA as the goals, objectives and outcomes are one and the same – providing and reinforcing the educational foundation for all youth to ensure a positive future in life. For additional information, please contact: The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency 404-658-WORK (9675)

December 1, 2005