Online school gives Detroit adult dropouts diplomas

Ron Stefanski wanted nothing more to do with Detroit in 1991, the year his 85-year-old grandmother was brutally beaten and slain in her east-side home by a 14-year-old dropout.

“I completely bailed on the city. I didn’t come down to sporting events,” Stefanski said.

Twenty-five years later, he’s back, mending deep but fading personal wounds by pitching an online program aimed at adults who didn’t finish high school. In Detroit, that’s about a quarter of the city’s residents who are 25 and older.

“That’s what we need to change,” Stefanski said. “That means … 80,000 people that can be in a better employment situation if they had a high school diploma.”

The program, called Detroit Collective Impact-Pathway to Education & Work, is a way for teens and adults to earn career credentials and accredited diplomas and takes a year to 18 months to complete. It was recognized in June by former President Bill Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together business, philanthropic, nonprofit and government leaders to develop solutions encouraging economic growth.

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