MERS Goodwill Excel Centers Hosts Fall Graduations

Adult high schools to hold graduation ceremonies on September 25 & 26

ST. LOUIS, MO (September 21, 2020) – MERS Goodwill announces the commencement ceremonies of students from the Goodwill Excel Centers in Poplar Bluff, Columbia, and Springfield on Friday, September 25 and in the St. Louis location on Saturday, September 26. In total, the Goodwill Excel Centers in Missouri will graduate 168 students this weekend between all four schools.

The Goodwill Excel Center is a free high school that gives adults the opportunity to earn an actual high school diploma. While earning their diploma, students earn college credits and a variety of industry-recognized certifications in order to increase their earning potential. Since opening, there will be 282 total graduates in under two years of operations with projections of 400 graduates per year moving forward.

“We are once again so proud of all of our graduates this year, especially as we navigate through the pandemic and have turned to online/virtual learning,” said Dave Kutchback, president and CEO of MERS Goodwill. “Thousands of individuals drop out of high school each year, impacting their career potential, and we are committed to providing these adult high school students with accelerated learning, opportunities for post-secondary education, and individualized career planning all leading to their success in life.”

Graduations will look a little different this year due to COVID-19. The following includes details for each of the location’s ceremonies.

The Excel Center Springfield will hold its ceremony at the Drury University O’Reilly Family Event Center located at 935 N. Summit Avenue on Friday, September 25. This location provides appropriate spacing for the graduation with the Excel Center hosting 46 graduates through three ceremonies at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Masks are required throughout the campus, and graduates will have limited guests.

In Columbia, the Excel Center will hold its very first graduation ceremony since opening a year ago last fall. There will be nine graduates in Friday’s ceremony in Columbia. Again, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school will host three ceremonies, honoring three graduates at a time and allowing each graduate passes for guests, keeping the total crowd at a minimum. Masks are also required. Ceremonies will be held at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the school located at 101 N. Fourth Street.

The Goodwill Excel Center in Poplar Bluff will also hold its graduation on Friday, September 25. The ceremony will take place outside, weather permitting, at its location 2233 N Westwood Boulevard. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., but for the safety of students and staff, this ceremony is not open to the public. Masks are encouraged, and all participants will practice social distancing.

On Saturday, September 26, the Excel Center St. Louis will hold its graduation. There will be 97 graduates in St. Louis and the school will host them in three ceremonies starting at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Masks will also be required. These ceremonies will take place on the parking lot just outside of the school which is located in downtown St. Louis at 1727 Locust.

“We are incredibly proud of our students receiving their high school diploma through the Goodwill Excel Centers,” said Mark Arens, Goodwill’s executive vice president and chief of program services. “We look forward to seeing the continued success of our graduates as they move on to join or reenter the workforce, with many students also entering local colleges. I’m honored to be a part of their achievements and look forward to this weekend of graduation ceremonies.”

As it has been reported, there are approximately 500,000 people in Missouri over 21 without a high school diploma. MERS Goodwill hopes that people continue to take advantage of the Goodwill Excel Centers. Although the adult high schools closed in March and had to shift to online classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic the Goodwill Excel Centers shifted quickly to create an online option for students and faculty. Each location has mainly online classes but is open to students and faculty for tutoring and help with technological issues. Typically, class times are flexible to accommodate work schedules, and each facility has a drop-in childcare center which is free for students attending class. Those interested in applying can call 314-982-8802 or visit

About MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries

Celebrating over 100 years, MERS Goodwill changes lives through the power of work. Its vision is a community where each individual has the opportunity to learn, work, and achieve their greatest potential. Annually serving nearly 30,000 individuals, the non-profit agency operates in 47 locations serving 93 counties in the bi-state area. Revenues from 44 Goodwill stores assist with funding MERS Goodwill job training and employment services. MERS Goodwill is a proud member of the United Way. For more information about MERS Goodwill or to find a Goodwill donation center near you, call 314-241-3464 or visit