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First students to graduate from 'Earn While You Learn' program congratulated by Mayor Brown

The program is a partnership between Buffalo Public Schools and the City of Buffalo that allows students to attend class all day in-person and still earn a paycheck.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Twenty-one seniors graduated high school this summer, and were paid to do so.

These students were part of the frist Earn While You Learn program, which aimed to help students who struggle academically because of remote learning to catch-up and not have to worry about losing income. For these students, losing income could place a strain on their family's budget and place them in economic jeopardy. 

Mayor Byron Brown congratulated the students on Friday for graduating after going to school from July 12 to August 20. 

“I’m pleased to announce all 21 seniors who participated earned their high school diplomas, and 133 juniors and sophomores earned the credits they needed to start the new school year on track for academic success,” Brown said.

Tonja Williams, Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services, reported that every student who enrolled completed the program.

Earn While You Learn is the result of a collaboration between the city and Buffalo Public Schools. Students earned $12.50 per hour for the entire six weeks of classes. The program will last two more years to help students get back on track after the pandemic. 

The program was coordinated through the the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment and Internship Program and included funding for up to 200 students. In total, $251,482 was paid to the 154 students who participated. 

Discussions are underway on how the program could be expanded into the regular school year to help keep students who are financially vulnerable from dropping out.