BOSTON - Thursday, June 18, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the first students have graduated from the Boston Public Library's (BPL) Career Online High School (COHS) program. The pilot program enables adults to earn an accredited high school diploma along with a credentialed career certificate virtually. The Mayor also announced that the BPL is continuing this program, making 25 new COHS scholarships available to qualified applicants.
“The Boston Public Library plays an incredible role in supporting the lives of our residents and ensuring they have the resources needed to succeed,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Career Online High School pilot program is one of many ways that our libraries help bring opportunity to those who need it, and that’s especially important as we build an equitable recovery from COVID-19.”
“In this time of great challenge, we want to ensure that our patrons have the resources to improve their prospects, especially as the world moves towards recovery from COVID-19. Providing these scholarships is one additional way we can support Boston residents’ educational goals, while helping deliver on Mayor Walsh’s promise to improve access to opportunity for all,” said BPL President David Leonard. “We congratulate the inaugural COHS graduates who personify our belief that it is never too late to pursue your educational goals and career ambitions.”
Career Online High School is unique in that students receive an accredited high school diploma rather than an equivalency degree, which can prevent admission to some colleges and universities. In addition, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that people with a high school diploma earn approximately $10,000 more annually than those without one.
Career Online High School takes place entirely online, which gives students considerable flexibility while allowing them to remain safe and healthy. To maximize support and accountability, each COHS student is assigned an academic coach, and BPL staff are available to provide additional instructive materials. Although the BPL is closed under COVID-19 restrictions, students can reach out remotely for help identifying materials to help them with their studies.
“I had always dreamed of getting my diploma, and it feels so amazing to have it after all these years. The sacrifices I made and the hard work it took to complete the program have all paid off,” said COHS graduate Greg Stewartson, a 57-year-old immigrant from Jamaica and a BPL custodian. “Now I want to sign up for college and get my Associate’s Degree, and I feel like I should write a book titled ‘Stay in School.’”
Graduate Ramon Torres, a 46-year-old Brighton resident and a father of three, said, “Growing up, I needed someone to push me and not let me give up on school. I finally got that in this program — the people really cared about me and my future,” he said. “I’ve been a chef for almost 30 years and was afraid to leave the kitchen. Now with my diploma and a certificate in Homeland Security, I feel like I can follow my dream of becoming a police officer.”
While working towards their high school diploma, COHS students also receive career training in one of 10 high-demand, high-growth fields, including:
- Certified Protection Officer
- Child Care and Education
- Commercial Driving
- Food and Hospitality
- General Career Preparation
- Home Care Professional
- Homeland Security
- Hospitality and Leisure
- Office Management
- Retail Customer Service
Prior to graduation, COHS students create a career portfolio — including a template resume and cover letter — and can take webinars on such topics as job search and interview skills.
In 2019, 10 students enrolled in COHS through the BPL’s pilot scholarship program. Two of them recently graduated, while an additional four will graduate this summer. To be eligible, individuals must live in Boston, be at least 19 years old, have completed the 8th grade, and have a BPL card. More information is available at www.bpl.org/career-online-high-school, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Career Online High School program is available via the BPL through a partnership with Gale, a Cengage Company. Individuals who do not have a BPL card can get one at www.bpl.org/ecard.