Excel school provides options

Every Butler University student is a high school graduate from somewhere, and the Excel Center in Indianapolis is hoping to add more high school graduates to the world.

The Excel Center opened in September this year.

It is a charter school that caters to previous dropouts and allows them the opportunity to get a real high school degree, not just a GED.

As a public charter school, it costs students nothing.

The center is one of two schools that Goodwill Education Initiatives, Inc. runs in Central Indiana. It is a division of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.

“The stores are what everyone knows about, but this company is doing a lot of good,” Courtney Rent, director of community services at Goodwill Industries, said.

Scott Bess, chief operating officer for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, said that the school opened in order to impact the lives of students and their families.

Bess said that tackling the graduation rate in Indiana was the first step to solving some of the state’s problems.

“Almost every statistic that any city struggles with has a relationship to the dropout rate,” he said. “If a city’s dropout rate is high, then its crime rate is probably high as well.”

Bess said Goodwill decided to step in when the unemployement rate began to escalate.

“We looked around and saw the 10 percent unemployment rate and said, as an organization, that we needed to do something to change that,” he said.

In efforts to change this statistic, the school admitted 300 students into their program this year.

Bess said the school was hoping to accept nearly 1,000 students next year to match the overwhelming demand.

The students range in age, from 17 to 56. Rent said the school was different because it offers
programs such as life coaches, a food pantry and day care services to help their students.

“It’s about the whole student, not just about school,” she said.

But the school does more than just provide students with a high school diploma.

Rent said, “The whole idea is not that students are graduating, but that we are committed to helping them with what’s next.”

For the Excel Center, that means they help their students get through certification programs and community colleges post-graduation.

“We’re giving them traction in whatever comes next,” Rent said.

The center is hoping to graduate their first student within the next few weeks.