Daily Record Staff//September 18, 2023
//September 18, 2023
Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake will open its new Excel Center on Sept. 28, a tuition-free program to help Maryland residents 21 years old and older earn a high school diploma and go on to careers in growing, sustainable industries.
The center is located at 222 East Redwood St. in Baltimore and the first session will have spots for 150 students, but Goodwill plans to double its capacity in future years. On average nationwide, people who drop out of high school earn 70% less than those who graduate, Goodwill officials estimate.
The program is a streamlined, accelerated, self-paced, individualized academic program that typically takes two years to complete, depending on how many high school credits a student has already accumulated. Students who complete the program receive a Maryland State Department of Education diploma.
Baltimore’s Excel Center is based on a model proven successful in 37 other locations in the U.S., program officials said. After completion of Excel Center programs in other cities, 70% of graduates enroll in college or are employed six months after graduation.
The center was funded by a mix of federal, state and donated funds, including $1.4 million in federal a grant secured by U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., $1 million in fiscal year 2023 and fiscal year 2024 in the Maryland budget with the assistance of Senate President Bill Ferguson, state Sen. Guy Guzzone, D-Howard and the Maryland legislature, $1 million from Goodwill of the Chesapeake for building renovation/capital spending, $250,000 annually from the Maryland Department of Education, $250,000 in capital support from the Abell Foundation for building renovation, $500,000 in capital support from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation for building renovation and $200,000 in capital support from the France-Merrick Foundation for building renovation.