Jobs for Delaware Graduates – A Local Idea That Sparked National Change

Forty-three years ago, in 1978, at a time when Delaware had the highest unemployment rate in the United States and the second-highest dropout rate…when the state income tax rate was the highest in the country…when companies were leaving the state, and new ones wouldn’t move to the state, late Governor Pete du Pont had an idea. That idea was creation of the Jobs for Delaware Graduates program. Five working groups made up of public and private sector leads, drawn from business, education, workforce, labor union, and community leadership, worked together to develop the model of Jobs for Delaware Graduates.

Pete’s mission for Jobs for Delaware Graduates was to enable students to achieve academic, career, personal and social success by offering programs for in-school youth, dropout recovery and follow-up services. At the time, the Governor insisted “We can do better – far better,” and organized a series of Task Forces to develop the first model for the program. 

As explained by Ken Smith, who worked for the Governor and now serves as the President of JAG: 

“At that time, I was Governor du Pont’s Chief Education Advisor, so I was responsible for organizing all of it and presenting a final plan to the Governor and the cabinet for a decision. Late one evening – almost midnight – after some very difficult discussions about the state budget being in shambles and many other issues, Governor du Pont told the weary group that the plan for Jobs for Delaware Graduates was done and ready for decisions and asked me to present it.

Looking at some exhausted cabinet members over cold cups of coffee (and I have to admit, a cigarette or two), I made my best case for the program. When I was done, the Governor asked for comments. Most said, “Gosh, Ken, great idea … surely need to do something, but we just can’t now…we simply have no capacity to do this…only a small amount of political capital to spend, and the issues are much bigger.” Then the Governor asked for a vote from the cabinet and senior staff. There were 12 no’s by the time it got around to me (again with kind remarks), and I said “Yes.” The Governor paused a second and said, “The ayes have it. Our young people cannot wait, the schools cannot wait, and our employers cannot wait. Let’s see if we can do something far more effective, far more accountable, and far more cost-effective than what we’re doing now for the poorest and most disadvantaged youth in our schools.” We launched Jobs for Delaware Graduates two months later.”

The Jobs for Delaware Graduates model worked so well, it led to the creation of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. Pete, a Republican, and then-Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat, worked together in bipartisanship to make Jobs for America’s Graduates possible. 

Over the years, both programs have continued to grow. Since its inception, more than 60,000 students have been involved in Jobs for Delaware Graduates programs. JAG now operates in 34 states with over 1,000 program affiliates and has served over 1.5 million graduates. 

In 1990, Pete spoke at a press conference to taut the success of both programs. Click here to see Pete proudly speak about watching his idea grow, bringing a future of opportunity and empowerment to young people.


PDFF Receives $200,000 Grant from Barclays

Grant builds on the $100,000 Barclays committed to launch the Foundation’s Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (E3) last year

WILMINGTON, Del. (June 10, 2021) – The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation has received an additional $200,000 from Barclays US Consumer Bank to support the statewide expansion of the Foundation’s Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (E3). As part of the grant, $50,000 will be allocated to fund a comprehensive research study on Black and Brown entrepreneurs and their economic impact in Delaware.

Developed through an initial $100,000 grant from Barclays and in partnership with the Wilmington Alliance, E3 was launched in March 2020 to help entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses by providing a process where experienced advisors create a clear, supportive, and sustainable pathway to success, that includes a comprehensive support structure for the entrepreneur. 

“Through our citizenship and CRA activities, Barclays is steadfastly committed to building deep ties into the communities where we live and work,” said Adam Ahmad, Community Reinvestment Act Relationship Manager, Barclays US Consumer Bank. “We view the E3 initiative as a unique opportunity for Barclays to have a positive impact on the community by building a more equitable ecosystem for diverse entrepreneurs and giving them the tools they need to succeed.” 

Through E3’s Statewide and Regional Committees, a team of experts work together to identify, vet, and incubate small businesses, with an emphasis on supporting Black and Brown entrepreneurs. E3 complements and works in tandem with the Foundation’s Reinventing Delaware program to create conditions for successful entrepreneurs and innovators across all communities. 

With the successful completion of the Foundation’s E3 pilot in Wilmington and the launch of the E3 pilot in Dover, Barclays is further investing in the program to support its statewide expansion. Additionally, the Foundation has just wrapped up its first open application cycle in New Castle County. Businesses selected to move forward will be announced by the end of June. 

Barclays’ support for this program is part of its Citizenship strategy focused on employability and helping businesses create jobs, as well as the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) plan. 

For more information about E3, visit


About the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation
The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring to life bold and innovative ideas that create jobs and make Delaware a better place to live, work and raise a family. The Foundation is committed to carrying out the legacy of the late former Governor Pete du Pont by focusing on the opportunities for success in Delaware. To learn more, visit


About Barclays
Barclays U.S. Consumer Bank is a leading co-branded credit card issuer and financial services partner in the United States that creates highly customized programs to drive customer loyalty and engagement for some of the country’s most successful travel, entertainment, retail and affinity institutions. The bank offers co-branded credit cards, small business credit cards, installment loans, POS Finance, online savings accounts, and CDs. For more information, please visit

Barclays is a British universal bank.  We are diversified by business, by different types of customer and client, and geography. Our businesses include consumer banking and payments operations around the world, as well as a top-tier, full service, global corporate and investment bank, all of which are supported by our service company which provides technology, operations and functional services across the Group. For further information about Barclays, please visit



Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation Media Contact

Stephanie Johnnie



Barclays Media Contact

George Caudill