On July 31, 2016, the Fountaindale (Ill.) Public Library District (FPLD) celebrated their first Smart Horizons Career Online High School (COHS) graduation, with three graduates receiving diplomas. COHS, in partnership with Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, is an online high school diploma and career certification program. COHS began in 2011 and was accredited as of February 2012. In 2014, FPLD became the third public library in the country to offer this vital initiative, thanks to grant funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Clinton Global Initiative. This funding allowed FPLD the opportunity to award seventy-five COHS scholarships to prospective students.
“Every person who enters Career Online High School has a different story, and the common thread which ties our three graduates together is a dedication to achieve their dreams through the power of education,” said Debra Dudek, Adult & Teen Services manager at FPLD. “It takes guts, perseverance, personal drive, and a willingness to dream big to achieve success in Career Online High School. Along the way, there are friends, parents, academic coaches and library staff members who help lighten the load of the journey for our participants.” These graduates are not only FPLD’s first graduates, they are also the first individuals in the state of Illinois to receive their high school diploma through the public library.
Today, FPLD has thirty COHS enrollees, and now that RAILS has initiated a partnership with COHS, another ten Illinois libraries will be offering Career Online High School in their districts later this year. For more information about this partnership, please visit fountaindale.org/programs/career-online-high-school.