In 2010, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana recognized that over half-a-million adults in Indiana lacked a high school diploma. Having already opened Indianapolis Metropolitan High School in 2004, a public charter school for traditional-aged students that focuses on college and career pathways, Goodwill was well positioned to meet this challenge.
The school was designed and launched specifically for older youth and adults who had dropped out of school in response to a request by the Mayor of Indianapolis. The aim was to find a way to help adults who lacked a high school diploma earn one.
The Excel Center opened at 1635 W. Michigan Street in Indianapolis to help students achieve their goals. Designed to fit the life circumstances of the prospective students, The Excel Center model focuses on removing barriers by providing open enrollment, flexible scheduling, accelerated coursework, free child care and transportation assistance. Students are able to take postsecondary courses for dual credit and earn an industry-recognized credential that will increase their employability and earning potential.
“The Excel Center is a found opportunity– one our students thought they had lost,” said Vice President of Mission & Education at Goodwill, Betsy Delgado. “Adults who want better opportunities in life can find the supports they need in our schools.”
Licensed teachers facilitate instruction in key academic areas such as language arts, math, social studies and science. Each student is also paired with a life coach who helps remove barriers both inside and outside of the classroom to help students be successful.
Just three years after the first location opened its doors, The Excel Center had nine locations serving nearly 3,000 students. With five schools in Marion County and four additional sites in Kokomo, Richmond, Lafayette and Anderson, The Excel Center began to make an impact across central Indiana. According to the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, the average annualized wage increase an Excel Center student receives as a result of graduating is over $9,000.
“We know children inherit education and economic success from their parents,” said Delgado. “The multi-generational impact is what we strive to achieve every day.”
Now, in 2017, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana owns and operates 12 Excel Center locations. Two additional schools are operated by Goodwill of Michiana. The Excel Center also expanded nationally in 2013, with locations in Tennessee, Texas and Washington D.C.
Since 2010, over 2,800 students have graduated from The Excel Center, more than 4,000 industry-recognized certifications have been earned and 97% of students graduated with post-secondary credits.
“Our students have the desire to graduate and are willing to put forth the necessary effort it takes to achieve their goals,” said Delgado. “The Excel Center is here to any adult who wants to take that first step towards the rest of their life.”