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

The Problem

When it comes to graduating from high school, our nation's students face some tough statistics. The latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, puts the national graduation rate at 72 percent. That means roughly one in four students starting ninth grade today will not graduate. Education Week reports that 1.2 million students – or two to three every minute – fail to graduate from high school. In 2006, Southwire Company learned the rate of those not graduating was worse – about 65 percent, or one in three.

Why Students Drop Out of School.

Research indicates the high school dropout rate is a preventable problem, but one that’s compounded by three issues:


Students who come from a low-income family often feel the need to contribute financially to the family or to their own independence, and will leave school to get a job.

Low Academic Performance.

Students who are falling behind, who have learning disabilities not properly addressed, or who “don’t fit in,” are also at high risk of failing to finish high school with a diploma.

Lack of Support.

The third factor is a lack of a support system, role model, or mentor for the student, which results in poor self-esteem and low motivation, in addition to poor academic performance and a high risk for drop out. According to research, this is further compounded if the student faces high family stress, or is the child of a young, single, unemployed mother.

Together, these factors create a very real impact in terms of lost wages and costs to society. Consider these points:

  • Those who do not receive high school diplomas earn, on average, just under $8,000 less a year than those who graduate, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Education. Over a 40-year career, that amounts to some $320,000.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate among those who did not finish high school was three times that of those with a college degree.
  • Nationwide, those who started as freshmen in the class of 2010, but who did not finish high school, together will lose more than $343 million in wages over an average year, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education.

While these are distressing facts, there is a solution. Realizing the need to provide hope to area high school students and the importance of working together with the community to solve its challenges through public and private partnerships, Southwire Company joined with Carroll County, Ga. schools to reverse the high school dropout trend. Together, we developed the 12 for Life program. And it’s working. Learn more about the solution +


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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