Montana's Jobs for Graduates program was ranked number one in the nation this week. Montana Department of Labor and Industry spokeswoman Casey Kyler-West said the program has proven to have a long list of positive outcomes.

"What are program does is really target at-risk kids," Kyler-West said. "Kids that are really at risk of not staying in school, or who face barriers to graduation. It teaches kids 'soft-skills,' and it also gets them involved in their community."

The program is in 33 schools across the state, and works with 950 students. For eight years in a row, it has won the prestigious Five-For-Five Award for success in some specific areas.

"The Five-for-Five-Award looks at a few different things," Kyler-West said. "It looks at graduation rates, positive outcomes, transitioning to work, post-secondary education, military, and full-time job placement. It's not like, once the kids graduate, we never see them again. We actually follow them for at least a full year to see where they're at."

Here's a quick look at Montana's numbers this year:

  • · 97.84% graduate from high school
  • · 82.87% are working
  • · 96.69% are working, in the military, and/or attending college
  • · 93.61% are in full-time placement (including jobs, schooling, etc…)
  • · 75.33% in full-time employment and/or military

Another big success story is the 100 percent graduation rate of Native American students who go through the program. According to Kyler-West, many of the students from Montana's reservations struggle with multiple barriers including "excessive absences, inadequate or no work experience, residing in economically disadvantaged conditions, low academic performance, and lacking marketable occupational skills."