GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Recent data shows college enrollment in the United States has declined for the eighth consecutive year. In West Michigan, Northview Schools is working to make sure more students graduate and are ready for the next chapter in their lives.

The district recently launched a unique program, Northview Next, which offers two learning options for students ages 15-20 with the ultimate goal of getting them career-ready before they get their diploma. 

Principal Brent Dickerson describes it as "a comprehensive approach to student learning."

The learning options include the Northview Next Learning Center and Northview Next Career Center.

One will "offer extended hours of operation, including summer and evening hours so that students can design a schedule that accommodates work requirements, health issues or other barriers to participating in a traditional high school schedule." The other provides a learning environment where students can "benefit from 'wrap-around' services that include an on-site teacher, online instructor, district mentor, job services, social and emotional support services and free breakfast and lunch."

"The objective is to help all students acquire an NVPS diploma, regardless of their circumstances," says Drew Klopcic, student supports coordinator.

Dickerson says they've been working on the program for more than a year and a half. It was born out of the success of a similar program called Future Focused Fridays. Dickerson says they saw their graduation rates and student engagement improve greatly.

"The future of our workforce depends on the education and support we provide for our students now," said Dickerson. "We give students hope by showing they have the skills employers demand and can truly be successful learners in the classroom and on the job site. We guarantee students who graduate from Northview Next will feel prepared and inspired to be life-long learners."

Those interested in enrolling can find more information here. Space in the program is limited.

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.