The goal of Friends of Literacy’s NEXT STEP program is to help recent GED / HiSET graduates and current students become increasingly self-sufficient by giving them the guidance needed to do the following: 

  • Discover local college programs to match students' interests and state and federal financial aid opportunities for which they may be eligible
  • Learn valuable job search skills and resume writing skills
  • Understand basic financial principles such as budgeting and avoidance of unsecured loans

To learn more about FOL’s NEXT STEP program or to enroll in a workshop, please contact us at 865-549-7007 or email us at

Meet Marcus: NEXT STEP Graduate

Marcus’s story is a familiar one. He dropped out of high school when he was in the 11th grade and realized he was too far behind to be able to graduate with his friends. He was able to land a job at the Sara Lee Bakery, but eventually tired of repeatedly being overlooked for promotions. “I knew I needed to get a GED. I decided I wanted to fix that problem,” he says. “Fix that excuse, once and for all.”

Now 28, Marcus took the GED exam during Thanksgiving week, 2013. By this time, he had not only successfully taken the GED Official Practice Test, but had completed Friends of Literacy’s NEXT STEP workshop series, which helped prepare him to move forward the moment he received his GED.

For Marcus, success has followed success. In a matter of months, he completed the NEXT STEP workshop, passed the GED exam, and applied to and was accepted into Pellissippi State Community College.


Meet Michelle: NEXT STEP Graduate

Now 25, Michelle points to two life-defining moments, eight years apart. The first was dropping out of high school at age 17 when she learned she was pregnant, and the second was losing her job as a nursing home activities director. During the intervening years, the former honor roll student tried her hand at a variety of low-wage jobs including fast food work and hospital housekeeping, but eventually became discouraged and weary of the dead-end grind.

Aware of the free GED classes offered by Knox County Schools Adult Education (KCSAE), Michelle called the school to enroll. This was the beginning of her giant – and rapid – step forward. Two weeks after enrolling, she passed the GED exam.

Michelle lost no time signing up for Friends of Literacy’s December 2013 NEXT STEP workshop. By mid-January, she had applied to Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), and by late January, had been accepted into the nursing program. 

After an eight-year hiatus, Michelle is excited to be resuming her education. Once she set her mind to it, the journey from her job loss in October 2013 to earning a GED to enrolling in NEXT STEP to applying and being accepted into college in January 2014, took a mere three months.