Why everyone should celebrate graduation season

When students graduate from high school, everyone benefits.


Over the last two weeks, thousands of young people have graduated from our public schools. For the students and everyone who has supported them, this is a huge achievement.

It’s also a time to celebrate for our community as a whole.

At JPEF, we believe that every child in Duval County deserves a high-quality public education to prepare them for success in college or career and life. There is a moral dimension to this, and there’s also an economic one.

The Alliance for Excellent Education did an analysis on the economic impact of students graduating who otherwise would have dropped out. The benefit to our city is huge – greater economic growth, more revenue through taxes, health care savings and more home sales, to name a few. From 2009 to 2016, there were approximately 1,900 additional graduates of Duval County Public Schools. The Alliance estimated the increase in graduates led to a $35.2 million increase to gross regional product.

When JPEF was founded in 2009, our graduation rate was about 55 percent – roughly 1 in 3 ninth graders wasn’t completing high school on time, if at all. Through a collaboration called Learning to Finish, JPEF played a small role in partnership with Duval County Public Schools and the community to better support students to graduate on time.  We’re proud that today our graduation rate is more than 85 percent.

This year’s graduations were particularly important to JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. In 2008-2010, she taught second and third-graders at S. P. Livingston Elementary, a Title 1 school that was in turnaround status. This year, many of those children graduated from high school. Rachael was proud to join many of her former students to celebrate their graduation and their bright futures. It was a powerful reminder why we should invest in the potential of our children.

So if you personally know a graduate this year or not, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating this proud moment and thanking all the students and educators who made it possible.





of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.