Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

Giving dropouts a chance at an education with 24-hour access

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Offering 24-hour access to school in hopes of helping young people earn their high school diploma. It’s a unique concept being used to change lives in the City of St. Louis.

Workforce High School isn't even three months old but has a wait list of local dropouts trying to utilize a school that’s open seven days a week, every hour of the day. Dr. Alice Prince came up with idea for the school.

“My goal is to make sure these students graduate. We want to get them on the road to prosperity. My staff knows they can’t leave any young person,” Prince said.

Prince, a lifelong St. Louisan, recognized a new approach was needed to save lives and give students a better chance at an education. She presented the idea to St. Louis Public Schools Superintendtent Dr. Kelvin Adams in November. Students began learning in December.

“One of the things Dr. Prince's team provides (are) opportunities that we might not be able to do in a regular school setting; access is what it’s about, 24 hour access,” Dr. Ian Roberts, network superintendent of high schools in St. Louis Public Schools.

This partnership between the St. Louis Public Schools and St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment –or Workforce High School—is attracting students who were dealing with adult issues, such as single parenting and full-time employment while trying to go to high school the first time around.

“They never give up on you…They'll push you. It’s different from regular school,” said student Domonic Bledsoe.

The organization operates out of a building on Market Street. Students can call ahead whenever they want to work on their education and a mentor is provided. Most work is done through a nationally accredited online program assisted by caring mentors who understand the circumstances these young people have been through. The program runs on funding from St. Louis Public Schools and grants, but the key is the mentors willing to give their time.

“That’s the coolest part of living in St. Louis and working for the city. We have people willing to go the extra mile because they know we can’t save a life between the hours of 9-5,” Prince said.