City of Riviera Beach offers pathway for students to get their high school diploma

Right now, 25 students are enrolled in the free program
Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 19:45:18-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A program in Riviera Beach is working to leave no student behind and set them up for future success.

Feeling disconnected from high school, Clinton Burke needed a new pathway to graduation.

"I was at school at Dwyer. I fell back in grades. I kind of felt myself drifting. I do feel like this is a second chance," said Burke.

That led him to the Career Pathway Program created by the city of Riviera Beach five years ago.

Valerie Grimsley has directed the program since it started. It was created for youths 16-19 years old that have low-grade point averages, little to no credits, or have disconnected physically and mentally from the K-12 school system.

"They don't come in motivated. They come in pretty beaten down. Just because of the different systems that have failed them," Grimsley said. "So, they're looked at as failures. They feel like failures when they get to us."

Right now, 25 students are enrolled, which is the city's largest class yet.

Each week, the students study for their high school diploma, and train for certification in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, H-VAC or welding.

"They get to pick and choose which career path they want to take," said Jimmy Major, the pre-apprenticeship coordinator for Florida Training Services Inc.

Riviera Beach also gives the students stipends each month based on how they’re progressing in the program.

"It could be as much as $400. It could be as less as $150," said Grimsley.

An incentive to push forward, instead of stopping or getting discouraged.

"We have a student that has a three-month-old son. So it helps him take care of his son. One of our student's couch surfs. So, (that will help) to maybe pay for the night," Grimsley said.

In the spring, the class with graduate with life-long mentors who believed in them when no one else would.

"Five or 10 years from now when I see one of the individual students that came up through the program become successful, that's rewarding enough for me," said Major.

Along with a diploma and skills set setting them up for bright futures.

"I know there's a lot of kids out there that probably feel like they don’t have a way or chance. But if you really feel lost, I feel like they should come to the program," said Burke.

Students in the Career Pathway Program come from around Palm Beach County. It is free.

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