a West End Neighborhood House initiative

Invest $120
in his GED.®

Increase his annual earnings by $5300.


The Problem

No GED®? No J-O-B.

High school dropouts face bitter realities.

Most employers and virtually all state-accredited trade and vocational schools require at least a GED® credential.

But getting such a credential is not an option for everyone.

The Problem

High cost

As of January 2014, the fee for the comprehensive GED® test nearly doubled to $120—beyond the reach of many.

This has occurred amidst a staggering, larger national problem.

The Problem

Hard facts

Beyond the personal toll, dropping out imposes significant societal burdens.

  • Dropouts each day (nationwide): 7000*
  • Estimated lost lifetime income: $154 billion*
  • Dropouts without GED® certificates are 6x more likely to be incarcerated than those with certificates.**
  • Dropouts cost billions in welfare and medical services.***
  • * "The High Cost of High School Dropouts,” (Alliance for Excellent Education, Issue Brief, 2011).

  • ** Andrew Sum, et al, “The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School,” (Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, 2009).

  • *** Henry M. Levin and Celia E. Rouse, “The True Cost of High School Dropouts,” The New York Times (January 2012).

The Solution

Invest in the Test

Simple. Measurable. Transformative.

Help motivated dropouts help themselves. Reduce societal burdens. Invest $120 in a GED® credential. On average, each credential yields:

  • $5300 in extra earnings per year*
  • $330,000 over a working life
  • a 3100% return on investment**
  • * Statistics taken from the U.S. Census Bureau: “Median Earnings for Full-Time Workers 25 Years and Over by Educational Attainment,” American Community Survey (2009), www.census.gov/newsroom/cspan/educ/educ_attain_slides.pdf
  • Finding: Those who obtain a GED® (or equivalent) credential earn on average $5395 more per year than those who do not. This amounts to $332,386 over a 40-year working life, after adjusting for inflation (2%).
  • ** The return on investment (ROI) has been reduced to show the effect of a 69% pass rate. (This is the average pass rate reported by GED® Testing Service, “2012 Annual Statistical Report on the GED® Test”). The calculation is straightforward: average ROI = $5395/$120 x 69% = 3102%. The actual ROI becomes, in fact, considerably higher with the addition of each subsequent year of earnings.

About Us

Our Mission

Second Chances Fund helps Delaware's high school dropouts complete their education and become self-sufficient.

A GED® credential is central to this effort. For most employers, as well as accredited trade and vocational schools, the credential is a requirement. But the test is expensive, and many cannot afford the fee.

We help.

About Us

Who We Are

Second Chances Fund is an initiative of West End Neighborhood House, a 501(c)(3) charity founded in Wilmington, Delaware in 1883.

West End helps individuals achieve self-sufficiency, realize their potential, and live responsibly in a healthy community and complex world. The charity serves over 9000 Delawareans annually through its Education, Employment, Housing, Case Management, Youth Development, and Financial Empowerment programs.

About Us

Whom We Serve

We pay GED® test fees for motivated, at-risk high school dropouts.

Candidates qualify for help if they:

  • Live below the poverty line
  • Enroll in West End's GED® test preparation program
  • Attend classes regularly and remain in good standing
  • Have a Delaware state ID


Joseph Miller

It was his mother’s dream that Joseph finish school and get a good job. And with her support and encouragement, he was on-track to do so. But then everything changed.


Joseph was 17 when his father and mother died. It fell to him to care for his sister and nephew. For three years, he worked minimum-wage jobs to try to make ends meet.

Still, he never forgot his mother’s dream, and he resolved to achieve it. At 21, on the advice of a friend, he enrolled in West End’s Education and Employment program.

At 9 AM each day, when the nightshift ended, he rushed to class, still in his work uniform. He stayed late each afternoon to make up for the lesson he missed in the morning. Despite everything, and bone-tired, he always came to class with a smile and an up-beat attitude.

Joseph’s dedication paid off. Within ten months -- GED® credential in hand -- he got a second job, with a major hotel chain. Soon he was able to move into his own apartment.

But he wanted more.

A year after earning his GED®, Joseph started cutting grass for family and friends. In time, he bought a lawnmower and a truck. Today he is the owner of Lawns by Joe, which employs four. Joseph thinks his mother would be proud.



Luis Rodriguez

Luis was trying to support his mother and two little brothers. But he couldn’t find steady work. He was a 16-year-old dropout who had been arrested for fighting, and he didn’t know what to do.


Friends and family told him about West End. Knowing he needed a GED® certificate, and with no other good options at hand, he enrolled in the Education and Employment program.

It was a new world. It seemed that every teacher and caseworker had a common mission: to help him succeed. They not only assisted him in class, but they offered him tutoring and visited his home when he was unable to make it to school.

Supported and guided as he had never been, Luis thrived. In under two years, he went from a sixth-grade level in math and an eighth-grade level in reading to a twelfth-grade level in both. In December of 2012, he earned his GED®.

Luis succeeded outside the classroom, too. He earned a nationally recognized Customer Service Certificate. And he began to give back. He volunteered for any event that West End offered. As a result of his positive attitude and good work, he obtained an apprenticeship in West End’s Maintenance Department.

Luis’s next step is to put his GED® to work. He plans to enroll in a trade school to pursue a certification in HVAC. Eventually, he wants to start his own business.



Mariah Jackson

Mariah, 29, had gotten into trouble early—and she was still paying for it. A high school dropout dogged by a criminal record, she couldn’t find stable work.


To have any reasonable chance of getting a steady job, Mariah knew she needed a GED certificate. But she needed help to pass the test. She had heard of West End Neighborhood House and knew it offered a test preparation program. So she enrolled. It would not be easy.

Mariah tested in at a sixth-grade reading level, a fifth-grade math level, and a fourth-grade writing level. She considered quitting. But her teachers repeatedly assured her that her scores did not reflect her true knowledge and that they would improve if she worked hard. Encouraged, Mariah applied herself in a way she never had. And she proved her teachers right. Within seven months, she tested at the twelfth-grade level for both reading and math and at the ninth-grade level for writing. So she continued. For several more months she worked intensively with a writing tutor. In June of 2013, Mariah earned her GED®.

In her writing exercises, Mariah often expressed her gratitude for being given a second chance. Her appreciation and enthusiasm for the program showed. She was considered a role model, and she was given the “Best Attitude” award.

Mariah went on to earn her nationally recognized Customer Service Certificate, and she got a job as a West End program recruiter. She has her sights set on Del Tech community college (which can accept her now that she has a GED® credential). She plans to study in the healthcare field, maybe radiology.



Q: What is the GED®?

A: GED® refers to the battery of tests issued by GED Testing Services®. The test is colloquially referred to as "the GED." It is the nation's most prevalent high school equivalency credential, used in over 40 states.

Q: What is your mission?

A: Second Chances Fund helps Delaware's high school dropouts complete their education and become self-sufficient.
The GED® certificate is central to this effort. Most employers and accredited trade and vocational schools require it. But the test is expensive. We provide funds for qualified candidates who cannot afford the fee.

Q: Whom do you serve?

A: We help motivated, at-risk, high school dropouts in Delaware. To qualify for test fee assistance, recipients must live below the poverty line, be enrolled in West End's GED® test preparation program, be in good standing, and attend classes regularly.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

A: West End Neighborhood House was founded in 1883. West End has been preparing students to take the GED® test since 1991. Second Chances Fund is an initiative within West End. We started it in 2014 when the cost of the GED® test nearly doubled.

Q: How does a GED® credential promote self-sufficiency?

A: In addition to opening the door to jobs and further schooling, getting a GED® credential increases average annual earnings by $5375 (Census Bureau).

Q: How big is the dropout problem in the US?

A: 7000 high school students drop out per day; 1.2 million per year.

Q: Can I deduct my donation?

A: Yes. Second Chances Fund is an initiative of West End Neighborhood House, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Payments made out to "West End" are fully tax deductible.


Second Chances Fund is an initiative of West End Neighborhood House.

If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact:

Kenyetta McCurdy Byrd
Deputy Director of Children, Youth, & Adult Programming
West End Neighborhood House
710 North Lincoln Street
Wilmington, DE 19805

(302) 658-4171