AUGUSTA — An organization that helps Maine students stay in school and get a job when they graduate was awarded $200,000 in grant funding to start a program at Cony High School.

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates officials and Gov. Paul LePage announced Tuesday the program was one of just 30 nationwide, out of 1,100 grant applicants, to be awarded a grant by the AT&T Foundation. They said the $200,000 grant will fund multiple years of a new Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program at Cony, where about 30 students have already enrolled in the program that is meant to help students at-risk of dropping out or otherwise not succeeding in school find academic success, and graduate with the skills to get a job.

LePage praised the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program, which is already in many schools in Maine, noting 92 percent of students in its programs graduate.

“That’s much better than everybody else is doing in the state,” LePage said of that graduation rate. “It’s the best bang for our buck, getting our kids through high school. The key is, they learn the life skills they need so they can become self-sufficient.”

Cony had a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program previously but it was eliminated, sometime in the early 90s, because of budget cuts, according to Craig Larrabee, president of Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, a statewide nonprofit organization that serves some 5,000 students in grades six through 12, in 79 programs in Maine schools.

Larrabee said AT&T has contributed some $500,000 to Jobs for Maine’s Graduates over the last seven years and the organization relies on a mix of private and public funding to help students succeed.

Ann Veilleux, 21, of Unity, who was in Jobs for Maine’s Graduates programs while she was a student at Vassalboro Community School and Winslow High School, said she struggled in school and suffered from low self-esteem, before she joined the program. The Family Planning employee, who said she is the only high school graduate in her family, credited much of her success to the program and the skills and confidence its teachers provided her.

Comments are no longer available on this story