LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Data shows 80 percent of the student population at the Academy at Shawnee comes from a low income family, and nearly 30 percent will not graduate this year.
Those are numbers administration said they are ready to leave in the past with the introduction of a new program geared toward career and college readiness.
The Academy at Shawnee Principal Venita Benboe said, "Learning how to have soft skills, learning what it takes to make it in the business world, in the career field of their choice, learning how to get your foot in the door, how to make that initial impression."
Those are just some of the resources administration hopes students will be leaving Shawnee with after participating in the "JKG" program, which is designed to serve underserved students.
Although this is the first school in Louisville to offer the program, students from Jeffersonville High who have graduated from Indiana's version of the program vouch for its effectiveness.
JKG graduate Matthew Koprowski said, "Life changing? JKG? Most definitely, most definitely."
Koprowski said he never wanted to go to college, and after finding out the air force wasn't an option, he felt lost. "JKG" gave him direction. The 2014 graduate now works full time at Ford Motors.
"I wanted a job that I could live comfortably, support a family, and not struggle, because I feel like nobody should have to struggle," Koprowski said.
Students enrolled in the program will meet with their instructor daily, and for 12 months after graduation. Although their classes haven't started yet at Shawnee, Thursday, the instructor from Jeffersonville High gave the students a quick introduction to the course with a lesson on first impressions.
"Your handshake says something about you. It says something about your character," he said.
Character they are hoping to build at Shawnee, one student at a time. The program is funded by two grants. The school received $30,000 from Integrity Staffing and $5,000 from GE.