August 26, 2022 8:00 pm

ChallengeU Transforms High School Dropouts into College Students


Richmond, Va. (Aug. 24, 2022) – ChallengeU, an innovative high school dropout recovery program, changed the life trajectory of Richmond City high school students who were no longer in school. Students were able to graduate against all odds because of ChallengeU’s ability to combine the power of building relationships through boots-on-the-ground coaching with the flexibility of online learning.

On Aug. 24, a special ceremony was held at The Kitchens at Reynolds to honor four graduates who, after overcoming difficult life circumstances, are eager to pursue their chosen careers at local educational institutions such as Reynolds Community College.

“We believe every student should be able to pursue a promising career and have an equal opportunity to be successful, even after dropping out of school,” said Nicolas Arsenault, CEO of ChallengeU. He highlighted that ChallengeU partners with Imagine Learning to provide high-quality online courses aligned with state standards and delivered by state-certified virtual instructors.

One ChallengeU Graduate’s Story

Jahneysha Gibbs was always up for the challenge when it came to her academics.  However, during high school, balancing life and school became overwhelming. Between the loss of her grandmother, constantly moving to different cities, and switching from school to school, she slowly began to lose motivation, and dreams of a future seemed out of reach. 

“A few months after I stopped going to school, someone called my mom and told her about the program. I had enough time to grieve and deal with the loss of my grandma and was willing to come back to school as long as I did not have to go back into the building,” says Jahneysha.

She found the ChallengeU coaches to be consistent, engaging, and very adaptive to her different life situations. “I love ChallengeU and the coach relationships!  They are so motivational and help you out in every way they can,” says Jahneysha, who aims to enter the registered nursing program at Reynolds in the fall.

ChallengeU is assisting her with the application process, connecting her to a job at the Omni hotel, and will be providing an academic scholarship that will be applied to her post-graduation plan. “I have always wanted to help people.  ChallengeU is helping me to learn more about the field of nursing and the different roles,” she concludes. Now that she is across the finish line with high school, she wants to encourage others in similar circumstances. “It gets better, and if someone has the option to work with ChallengeU, they should definitely take it!”

“The opportunity to walk alongside these students as they have overcome various challenges has been a privilege that I am most grateful for,” said Bria Jacobs, Lead Graduation Coach of ChallengeU in Richmond Virginia. “Our program is designed to meet youth right at the intersection of their current circumstances and their greatest desires for a bright future.  We see our participants as future scholars, entrepreneurs, teachers, healthcare practitioners, and anything else that they set their minds to. The ultimate goal is for participants to see the light at the end of the tunnel and walk toward it with confidence and a solid support system committed to assisting them every step of the way.”

“Working in partnership with public school systems in the U.S., ChallengeU is building a better, brighter future for students who have dropped out of school due to a variety of life circumstances,” concluded Arsenault. “Walking across the stage to receive a high school diploma is a moment that every student should experience and celebrate. Our team at ChallengeU is honored to help make that important milestone a reality, as well as creating a pathway to be a productive member of the workforce.”

About ChallengeU

ChallengeU is a dropout recovery program that partners with school systems to identify, re-enroll and graduate students who had previously dropped out of high school. Our intervention model combines the flexibility of online learning with the power of building relationships through in-person coaching. Our coaches provide wrap-around support in collaboration with local community organizations. We engage students in various levels of support, ensuring they will have the confidence and motivation to commit to working with us toward graduation and post-graduation opportunities.  We advanced our mission in the USA based on the success of our operation, which has re-enrolled more than 24,000 dropouts in school systems throughout Canada. In 2022, ChallengeU was recognized as a B Corp Best For The World™.

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Media Contact: Jill Vaughan,, (804) 363-7175