NPR Features Southwire’s 12 for Life Program

Oct 9, 2013

National Public Radio (NPR) listeners got introduced to Southwire’s 12 for Life program recently as the program continues to gain national attention.

In a broadcast aired the morning of Sept. 27, reporter Barbara Doughterty spoke with 12 for Life student employees and organizers about the program’s impacts on the lives of you people in Carroll and Heard County, Georgia.

“Basically, students have to be at risk of dropping out of high school to land a job here. It's all part of a program called 12 For Life,” Dougherty reads in the broadcast. “Southwire created it in 2007 together with the local county school system to try and reduce the dropout rate and improve the lives of teens like Deriek Foster.”

Cut to Foster who says, “I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have finished high school. I'm pretty sure I'd probably be at home right now sleeping.”

Through sounds from the 12 for Life plant and comments from students, the story describes what students do at the plant and provides insight into why they were in danger of dropping out of high school. One student, Medina Parrish, shares that she needed to earn money to help her family. With her Southwire earnings reaching 75 cents above the state’s hourly minimum wage, Parrish was able to do that while working toward her degree.

“I was able to get what we actually needed,” she said. “It kind of gave me an ease to look forward to the future.”

12 for Life also has formed the cornerstone for a bright future for Foster, who graduated and now attend college.

“Being able to accomplish something that I didn't know that I could do tells me that I can do anything that I set my mind to,” he said.

A transcript and audio file of the article are available at

- Gary Leftwich