Community College Partnerships and Excel Centers Serve Students All Over the Country

ROCKVILLE, MD — It’s back-to-school season, and today’s college students look very different from the stereotypical college kids of years gone by. According to criteria from the National Center for Education Statistics, the majority of U.S. college students are now “non-traditional learners”— including older students returning to school or starting later in life, those attending while raising children and those attending while working.

As the population of learners diversifies, the options available to them are changing too.

Community-based Goodwill organizations across the country offer a variety of programs designed specifically for non-traditional learners. The Excel Center® — now operating in 25 cities — provides adults the chance to earn their high school diplomas, industry-recognized job certifications and college credits, all at no cost.

Founded in 2010 by Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, The Excel Center is dedicated to ensuring that adult learners get the tools they need to succeed. Each Excel Center offers supports such as free onsite child care, a life coach and transportation assistance. With expedited curriculum and flexible scheduling, students can graduate quickly, prepared to earn higher wages or to pursue postsecondary education.

“My experience at The Excel Center was absolutely life-changing,” said Dylan Snell of Anderson, IN.

By age 19, Dylan had dropped out of high school, was homeless and was facing a felony theft charge. After 12 weeks at The Excel Center, Dylan graduated with a high school diploma and some college credits. Today, he works as a project manager for an electrical supply company.

Beyond high school, Goodwill organizations partner with more than 140 community colleges nationwide. Goodwill also collaborates with employers to develop training and apprenticeship programs.

“Most people think that Goodwill is just a retail store, but it’s so much more than that,” said Chelsea Rucker of Nashville, TN.

Chelsea was living in a shelter with her two daughters when she enrolled in a technology certificate program at Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. She subsequently landed her dream job as a data technician at Google, and has moved her family into a three-bedroom house.

When you shop at Goodwill, you help people like Dylan and Chelsea achieve their goals. Revenue from store sales goes back into local communities to fund job placement and training programs.

As the first day of class rolls around, consider going back to school or learning new skills through Goodwill, or show support for the nontraditional learner by planning a back-to-school shopping trip at your local Goodwill store.

Malini Wilkes
Public Relations and Multimedia Manager
Goodwill Industries International
Phone: (240) 333-5523
[email protected]

Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 157 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. GII is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is recognized by GuideStar with its Platinum Seal of Approval, the organization’s highest rating for charities. For the past three years, Goodwill was ranked in the top five brands that inspired consumers the most with its mission in the World Value Index, commissioned by the creative agency, enso. Goodwill has been on Forbes’ list of top 20 most inspiring companies for three consecutive years, the only nonprofit featured on that list.

Local Goodwill organizations are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that offer job placement and training services, and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 3,300 stores collectively and online at®.

Goodwill helps people facing challenges find employment to advance their careers. Local Goodwill organizations build revenues and expand employment opportunities by contracting with commercial, state, government and non-government organizations to provide a wide range of business services, including janitorial and grounds maintenance, flexible staffing, food service, manufacturing and contracts packaging, reverse logistics, document imaging and shredding, and laundry services.

More than 34 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills, and nearly two million people received in-person services.
Goodwill is both an icon and accessible neighbor: more than 82 percent of the U.S. population resides within 10 miles of a Goodwill location.

For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, visit, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl.