Public Library to Help SF Adults Earn Online HS Diplomas

The San Francisco Public Library announced Thursday plans to launch an online high school diploma program beginning in August that aims to help some of the 30,000 San Francisco adults who did not graduate from high school earn an accredited high school diploma as well as certificates in high-growth, high-demand career fields, according to a library spokesman.

The new program, Career Online High School, is a partnership between the public library and Cengage Learning. It strives to make the library into an interactive educational institution.

The online diploma program has already launched at the Los Angeles Public Library, the Sacramento Public Library and the San Diego Public Library.

Benjamin Ibarra, a spokesman for the library, said one of the best parts of the program is the availability of academic coaches who can offer guidance and encouragement to students.

Ibarra said coaches will also be able to evaluate students’ performance and connect students to resources they need to master the course material.

Ibarra said the library estimates that they will invest $150,000 for the Career Online High School program this year.

“We envision it to be a free program.” Ibarra said, explaining that those with financial need can qualify for scholarships.

Luis Herrera, a librarian at San Francisco Public Library, said in a statement that Career Online High School helps the library “achieve our goal of rethinking adult literacy in the 21st century in a profound and impactful way.”

Herrera said the program will transform the library into a place for personal growth and learning for those individuals who are most in need.

This year the program has 100 slots for students, Ibarra said, noting that the number of San Franciscans without high school diplomas is far more, and estimated to be around 30,000.

Paul Gazzolo, senior vice president and general manager of Gale, which is part of Cengage Learning, said that the program will not only have a positive impact on the city’s residents but also support local economic and workforce development.

“Earning a high school diploma can have a life changing effect,” Gazzolo said. “Graduates earn more, have lower unemployment rates and contribute more to their communities both economically and socially.”

Applicants to the program should be over 19 years old, have a San Francisco Public Library card in good standing, and exhibit a willingness and ability to dedicate ten hours a week to coursework.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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