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MERS Goodwill announced Tuesday it has received the contract to establish four adult high schools in Missouri over the next 21 months.

The four adult high schools — to be called Goodwill Excel Centers — are the same institutions Gov. Eric Greitens approved by signing a bill into law in July.

The schools will serve people over age 21 to receive high school degrees, free of charge. Class times will be made flexible to accommodate work schedules, and each school will have a "drop-in" child care center, according to a news release.

In addition to degrees, the schools will offer, "in some cases, certifications for a number of fields of work."

The adult high schools will open in St. Louis, Poplar Bluff, Columbia and Springfield.

The St. Louis Goodwill Excel Center is anticipated to open first by October, followed by the Poplar Bluff location in January 2019. No dates were listed for the Columbia or Springfield locations.

"The Goodwill Excel Centers will further our vision of a community where each individual has the opportunity to learn, work and achieve their greatest potential. We know the need is there, and we are ready to serve," MERS Goodwill President and CEO David Kutchback said in the news release.

"We are excited to serve even more people in our region and to strengthen communities in Missouri," MERS Goodwill Board President Darryl Jones said. "Having a high school diploma can improve an individual's employment opportunities and future earnings, and it's exactly what our mission stands for: 'Changing lives through the power of work.' I'm so pleased to be part of this new chapter for not just MERS Goodwill but for the state of Missouri."

Approximately 500,000 people in Missouri over age 21 don't have a high school diploma, according to the news release.

People interested in applying to one of the adult high schools can call 314-982-8802.

The curriculum and diplomas of the schools will be no different than traditional high schools.

MERS Goodwill is in the process of searching for a superintendent and staff for its adult high schools.

MERS Goodwill operates 48 locations in 75 counties serving Missouri and southern Illinois. The nonprofit has 44 signature Goodwill stores.

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