Southwire's 12 for Life - Motivating Students to Stay in School

The Problem

From its beginnings in the 1950s, Southwire Company has been a pioneer in extending services and opportunities to the community. It all started with Southwire founder Roy Richards, Sr., a wire and cable manufacturing entrepreneur who always looked out for others and Giving Back. In fact, while founding the business, a key motivation for Richards was to increase the quality of life for his grandmother, who had never enjoyed electricity in her home. While it took some time to meet that goal, Richards never lost sight of it, nor did he lose sight of others in his community who desperately needed electricity—and opportunity.

As the company grew, Richards maintained a commitment to upgrade the workforce in the community by building skills, educating, and providing work opportunities for rural workers. It was a legacy he passed to his son, Roy Richards, Jr. A deep supporter of education in his own right, Roy Richards Jr. was a founder of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and supported many local education efforts, helping direct internships, apprenticeships, and outreach initiatives. Southwire has always made education a priority and was among the first businesses in Georgia to require a high school diploma to work in the business. Additionally, Southwire helped by opening its Learning Center to offer a variety of skills to its workers to keep them learning and growing in their value to themselves and to the community.

Southwire Giving BackThe 12 for Life program is a natural extension of Southwire’s lifelong commitment to Giving Back, with the specific goal of helping young people graduate high school and expand their opportunities. Planning for the program began by identifying at-risk students that needed skills, nurturing and an income to focus on graduating. Southwire partnered with Carroll County Schools in 2004, with early discussions centering on a special diploma that would allow students to receive credit for working. Through creative output from both sides, plans were revised to create a separate manufacturing plant where students could attend class and work at real jobs.

Southwire purchased the 12 for Life building in 2006 with plans to locate a reel assembly shop and other operations within the plant. School officials chose the first group of participants later that year and production started on January 4, 2007 with 71 students. The Carrollton program eventually expanded to include students from Heard County schools. In mid-2009, the second 12 for Life facility opened in Florence, Alabama in conjunction with the Florence City Schools.

In 2013, 635 students graduated from 12 For Life.

Dropping the Dropout Rate

We are actively reversing the dropout trend in Georgia. We've graduated 275 students in our first four years, far exceeding our goal of 175

High School Graduates by 2012. Learn more +

12 for Life Skills for Life

12 For Life is not a Vocational/Technical program. We focus on students rather than specific skills to ensure individuals have the work and life skills they need to succeed.
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12 for Life Skills for Life

Schools and private businesses committed to education & community can build sustainable programs. Doing the right thing pays for itself.
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A Paycheck and a Diploma

Students can succeed at School and Work without the compromise. Our students stay in school, earn money, and learn the skills employers look for.  Learn more +


Southwire Giving Back

Since the 1950's, Southwire has emphasized giving back to the community. 12 for Life is a natural extension of our outreach to improve our community.
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Getting Involved

12 for Life is a successful model for other businesses and schools. Find out how to improve graduation rates and impact long-term earning capacity for your entire community.
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