Learn to Earn: How Detroit program is paying people to go back to school

Program is 20 hours a week dedicated to getting your GED or high school diploma all while getting paid up to $200 a week

If your education level has you struggling to find a good paying job or maybe you’re working two and three jobs to try and make ends meet because you never graduated high school help is out there.

DETROIT – If your education level has you struggling to find a good paying job, or maybe you’re working two and three jobs to try and make ends meet because you never graduated high school, help is out there.

There’s a special program in Detroit that will pay you to go back to school.

“I went to Redford High School!” said India Jackson.

That was until her senior year when Jackson would drop out of high school. Life happened and she wasn’t able to finish on time.

“I had a family,” said Jackson. “Once I had a family you know I started working. Once those two came into play it was kind of hard to put school into it.”

Now at age 34, the mother of four found it hard to make money to support her family. She would work several jobs to try and make ends meet, always looking for a new better paying job.

“It gets a little discouraging from the start of when you fill out the application and you get to the part where you have to put do I have a high school diploma,” she said. “And immediately that’s like a barrier. In my mind I’m figuring I’m getting put in the back of the line. A lot of times the qualifications is you have to have a high school diploma or GED so that was a barrier of mine for a while.”

The jobs she did find didn’t pay enough.

“I was an assistant manager at Tim Hortons,” said Jackson. “I was working anywhere from between 40 to up to 55 hours a week.”

At about $12 an hour. But one day ...

“I was watching Mike Duggan on TV one day and he happened to mention the Learn to Earn program.”

Learn to Earn program: What it is

Detroit’s Learn to Earn program would change her life forever.

“The intent is to replace a second job with some funding so they can wholly focus and dedicate 20 hours a week,” said Carmen Bender with the Learn to Earn program.

The program is 20 hours a week dedicated to getting your GED or high school diploma all while getting paid up to $200 a week. Bender knows just how many Detroiters could benefit from a program like this.

“In 2018 there were over 80,000 Detroiters that did not have a high school diploma or equivalent,” Bender said.

The Learn to Earn program is reducing those numbers and putting Detroiters back to work. Not only are they paid to get their GED or high school diploma, the program helps them find a new career.

“It’s the most fulfilling work that I have ever done in my 20 years of working,” said Bender.”

Fulfilling watching people like Jackson, not only get her high school diploma, but now she’s started a new career as a CNA making enough money to better support her family and make her four children proud.

“I did it! I’m about to cry now ... I was so happy that I finally did it and I’m able to set a better example for my children,” said Jackson.

For India, having that high school diploma means more than just a piece of paper.

“That I ... that I finished what I came to do,” said Jackson. “I have a whole new life to look ahead to and I am so grateful. So grateful!”

The program typically takes anywhere from four to eight months to complete. You do have to qualify but it’s simple.

For more information, please visit: DetroitAtWork.com.


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About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.