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Memphis center that gives adults new hope to graduate, gain job skills is expanding | here's where you can sign up to progress in a career

Goodwill's The Excel Center is expanding its presence and possibilities thanks to a federal grant and giving people hope.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 100,000 adults in Shelby County without a high school diploma will soon have new opportunities to graduate and get new job skills - for free.

Goodwill's The Excel Center is expanding its presence and possibilities thanks to a federal grant and giving people hope, including future graduate Stacey Douglas.

"It's life changing to me; honestly this is something I tried and tried to do so many times," Douglas told ABC24.

The 32-year-old dropped out of school as a teenage mother.

However, she never lost hope about one day earning her high school diploma.

"It's not too late," Douglas said. "You can do this."

The now-mother of five kept at it.

Thanks to The Excel Center - Goodwill's free adult high school and workforce training hub - Douglas will graduate in June with pharmacy and computer software qualifications.

"Honestly it's already opened so many doors and I haven't even gotten the certification in my hand yet," Douglas added.

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Those with The Excel Center are excited about creating other success stories beyond this school near Perkins and I-240.

"I always felt like I was down in the barrier and now I feel like I'm on top because I have this paper," Michelle Collins - who is also graduating in June - added.

Plans are underway to create more specialty training programs locally and graduate more students.

This is all thanks to a new $12 million federal grant for The Excel Center.

The goal is to put a significant dent on the 120,00 adults in Shelby County without a high school diploma and limited options.

"Making sure that the students don't just leave with a a diploma but make sure they have the qualifications the need to build a career," The Excel Center School Director Candis Dawson-Taylor said.

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Staff is hopeful the grant dollars will allow for five Excel Centers to eventually open in Memphis' highest dropout areas per capita, including Raleigh-Frayser. 

"The community, we needed this, we didn't have places that we could actually thrive and actually be successful," Douglas said.

Enrollment is now open at The Excel Center for the session of classes starting August 1st.

If you are interested in signing up or learning more about what's being offered, learn more at www.goodwillmemphis.org/theexcelcenter.

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