FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2021
Goodwill Industries International Names Diondre Ouzts Its 2021 Graduate of the Year
Rockville, MD – Diondre Ouzts needed a new direction when he learned he could no longer play sports in high school during his senior year. He had attended three different high schools in Washington, D.C., and he admitted to being more interested in playing sports and enjoying the social aspect of school. When he stopped playing sports, he also stopped working on his academics. His grades suffered, and he eventually stopped going to school.
Ouzts’ new direction came when he enrolled in The Excel Center, a tuition-free adult charter high school operated by Goodwill of Greater Washington that awards industry-recognized certifications and high school diplomas — not GEDs — to adult learners. He heard about The Excel Center from his mother, who graduated from the school and told him about the supportive learning experience she received there. Fulfilling a promise he made to his mother, he enrolled in The Excel Center to earn his high school diploma.
Teachers at the school helped Ouzts develop a new love of learning and motivated him to earn his diploma. He developed a passion for education and worked toward a goal of teaching children. The Excel Center prepared him for employment through a comprehensive curriculum that included business and communications skills classes, classes in STEM and humanities, and instruction in skills that employers look for in the workplace. He also grew his confidence and leadership skills.
Ouzts graduated from The Excel Center in January 2021 and now works as a pre-kindergarten tutor at the Literacy Lab in Washington, D.C., tutoring students ages 3- to 5-years old with reading and writing. He is part of the organization’s Leading Men Fellowship, which creates opportunities for young men of color and increases their representation in the field of education. Leading Men Fellows participate in a year-long, residency-style experience, where they provide evidence-based literacy support to pre-kindergarten students, receive coaching and professional development and gain valuable work experience.
“The Excel Center provided a supportive learning environment for Diondre, and we’re proud to play a role in helping him grow his career in education,” said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Diondre strengthens his community every day through his work teaching children to love reading, writing and learning.”
Ouzts teaches literary skills in one-on-one and small-group settings, serving as a mentor and role model for his students. His long-term plans include starting his own nonprofit organization and preparing young minds for the future.
“Getting into The Goodwill Excel Center program changed my life tremendously,” said Ouzts. “I thank the Goodwill community for everything. My family appreciates everything you have done to assist my mother and me.”
About the Award: The Goodwill Industries International Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year award recognizes an outstanding person with a disability or disadvantaging condition who completed a Goodwill career services program and is competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer.
ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 156 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps people find employment, Goodwill is recognized with GuideStar’s highest rating, the Platinum Seal of Approval.
Local Goodwill organizations offer employment opportunities, job placement and training services, and other community-based programs, funded by selling donated clothing and household items in nearly 3,300 stores and at shopgoodwill.com®. Last year, more than 20 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill services, and more than one million people received in-person services.
For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, visit goodwill.org. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl.
Senior Director, Public Relations
Goodwill Industries International
Phone: (240) 333-5266