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Excel Center opens new adult high school for formerly incarcerated people

80% of people in jail don't have a high school diploma.
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Posted at 6:42 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 18:52:22-04

INDIANAPOLIS – 80% of people in jail don't have a high school diploma. That's according to a free school for adults called The Excel Center.

Since 2010, the Excel Center ran by Goodwill has been helping adults that don't have a high school diploma obtain one.

"In the state of Indiana there is right around 460,000 working age adults that don't have a high school diploma,” said Kent Kramer the President and CEO for Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana said.

Not having this critical piece of education can create barriers for employment.

Over 8,000 adults have taken advantage of the school's free courses since the first Excel Center opened but now the organization is focusing on a new population of individuals—people who were formerly incarcerated.

"I feel welcome,” Jeremiah Bowden an Excel Center student said. “You know face tattoos and all. I have a good support system here.”

Bowden was incarcerated from the time he was twelve until he was eighteen. He lost his mom once he got out, then his home. All that lead him to drugs and alcohol. He ended up getting clean through a program with the Salvation Army. Now he is working on getting his high school diploma with the hopes of eventually going to college to help people just like him.

"I'm already in the field of addictions so that's where I want to keep it just trying to save life, "Bowden said.

While Bowden is trying to save lives, his life was changed by the Excel Center. A life change the Excel Center hopes to replicate with their new school.

"As people exit the jail or exit the prison or any correction facility that's where we are able to work with them and provide them opportunities to further their education at the Excel Center,” Kramer said.

Bowden hopes sharing his past experiences will encourage others in a similar situation to do something to better themselves.

"Don't be scared to take that next step in life,” Bowden said. “They say don't leave before the miracle happens, be the miracle."

The New Excel center for formerly incarcerated people is located near the Marion county Criminal Justice Center. For details on how to get enrolled in the excel center's free programming click here.