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When we think of back to school season – most of us think of kids and teenagers who are headed to the stores to stock up on school supplies, new school clothes, and getting themselves back into a routine for the new school year. But did you know that there are roughly 29 million American adults who do not have a high school diploma?

Most people are afraid to talk about not having a diploma as if there is something wrong with them. But there are hundreds of reasons why smart hardworking people were unable to finish high school – and there is nothing wrong with admitting that. In fact, we should be celebrating and be inspired by those hardworking adults who make the choice to finish their diploma, even as adults. And we should be helping and encouraging those close to us who we know need an extra hand or extra help to finish their diploma!

The AdCouncil and FinishYourDiploma.org have launched a new campaign to celebrate the adults who have finished their diploma and to inspire those who feel like they have been alone or did not know where to turn to find resources and tools for free adult education in their community.

Without a high school diploma, opportunities in today’s economy can be limited. In fact, nearly 30% of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential. Since the campaign initially launched in 2010, Finish Your Diploma has helped more than 800,000 adults in all 50 states find free test-prep classes in their area.

Black-and-white image of student in graduation hat and eyeglasses looking at camera on background of chalkboard

Black-and-white image of student in graduation hat and eyeglasses looking at camera on background of chalkboard

We want to get the word out about the network of thousands of free adult education classes available throughout the country. In most communities, local nonprofits and literacy centers are able to offer free classes to help adults prepare for the GED, TASC, or HiSET high school equivalency tests. If we can get people in the door, these centers will provide support and guidance on the path towards higher education. For many adults, earning a high school equivalency diploma is the first step toward a college degree, better job, or brighter future.

How else can you help in your local community?

Portrait of lovely student throwing graduation hat

Portrait of lovely student throwing graduation hat

Join the #HatsOffToYou Social Media Campaign – One thing that unites graduates in the U.S. is the tossing of a cap to celebrate their tremendous achievement. The AdCouncil and FinishYourDiploma.org are asking people to toss a hat in support of adult graduates and to inspire others to get their diplomas. Simply film a short video or Instagram Boomerang, or take a picture of yourself tossing any hat you have available. Use the hashtag #HatsOffToYou and tag @FinishYourDiploma on Instagram. Example: I’m tossing my hat in honor of the thousands of adults who will receive their diplomas this year, #HatsOffToYou @FinishYourDiploma

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