A Seat at the (White House) Table


I wanted to share with you what Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) affiliates received in a newsletter from JAG National.  Vice President Mike Pence is among the many governors or former governors (split evenly among both parties) who serve on the JAG board of directors.  Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) is among 33 state affiliates.  Having the new administration’s ear and a seat at the table is a tremendous step toward more advocacy and support.  I’ll be anxious to see where this leads.  Scaling JTG from 19 programs to 119 programs all across Tennessee helping at-risk students graduate and become college/career ready?  Bring it on!

As noted in a separate report to the Board and the Council of State of Affiliates, a strong JAG supporter among the senior White House staff arranged for Ken Smith to be one of nine parents and educators invited to a “Parent Teacher Conference Listening Session” with the President, Vice President, and newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Vice President Pence – who, as Indiana Governor, organized the largest state investment in JAG, and whose state is tied with Louisiana as our largest – spoke passionately about JAG to the President and Secretary, highlighting the success it has brought to some of the nation’s most challenged young people.

Secretary DeVos invited the JAG team to her office for a full briefing at a later date. She indicated she had “heard good things” about JAG as she strongly campaigned for a broad range of educational choices in Michigan. She was eager to hear more detail regarding strategies that have proven to work at scale and over time, and JAG meets those criteria.

Vice President Pence has also offered to meet with Governor Phil Bryant and Ken to begin discussing how JAG could be part of the new Administration’s education and workforce initiatives.

Most of the senior White House staff was present in the Roosevelt Room for the discussion, so a broad range of leadership within the White House heard about the program directly from the Vice President.

On another note, I have fantastic news to share with you about JTG students earning college scholarships.  I’m gathering photos and information so stay tuned.  Finally, my trip to Anderson County Career & Technical Center in Clinton and Oneida High School in Scott County went great.  Educators in those schools speak highly of JTG and are thankful it is in their respective schools.  We are thankful their school districts invest in JTG and proud they are part of the JTG program roster!

By |2018-08-22T16:59:45+00:00March 1st, 2017|Professional Relationships, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.

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COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.