October 28, 2016
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President Joins Alliance To Improve Our Nation’s Grad Rate


America’s Promise Alliance joins President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education to address nation’s high school dropout & college-readiness crisis



America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance) unveiled the next phase of the successful two-year Dropout Prevention Campaign called Grad NationThe announcement was be part of a larger education event that Alliance Chair Alma Powell and Founding Chair Gen. Colin Powell participated with President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discussing strengthening our schools so the United States can once again become the world’s leader in college graduates. 

The work of Grad Nation will center on a goal of ensuring that 90 percent of today’s fourth-graders graduate high school on time. To help achieve this goal, the Alliance will seek to engage a broad cross-sector of American individuals, organizations and corporations to work together, using lessons learned from its highly successful Dropout Prevention summits and regular measurement of leading benchmark indicators like pre-school enrollment and eighth grade math and science scores.

“The time for talking about the problem has ended,” said Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret), founding chairman, America’s Promise Alliance. “The simple proposition is that we must not see this as just a problem for our schools and parents, but a crisis for all of us. If we don’t act to solve it now, then we risk not just our economic future, but the integrity of our society. No nation, not even the strongest and wealthiest nation in the world, can afford to sit back and forfeit so much of what is truly our greatest national treasure—our children. Grad Nation is a way for us to mobilize to win this battle.”

This work will pay special attention to communities surrounding the nation’s 2,000 lowest-performing high schools, which account for approximately 50 percent of all dropouts, finding ways to both prevent youth from dropping out and advocating for programs and policies that help bring back those students who have left school.

“On average, each high school dropout is estimated to cost the taxpayers over $292,000 in lost tax revenue, government support, and incarceration costs,” says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “In today’s job market, you cannot drop out of high school anymore and land a decent job. All too often, dropping out of school is an apprenticeship for prison, not for success in the workplace.”

More than 120 of the Alliance’s nearly 400 partner organizations have already pledged their support to work towards achieving the Grad Nation goal. Some examples of that work include:

  • City Year —City Year’s In School & On Track initiative works to reach 50 percent of all students who are at risk of dropping out in their 19 locations nationwide. The program engages school districts, the private sector and the federal government to help youth stay in school. To fully support this new program, City Year is committed to expanding its number of corps members from 1,500 to 6,000 and is currently focusing on the high schools and their feeder middle and elementary schools in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.  Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee have partnered with City Year for this program and have set a goal to increase the number of schools with City Year corps members from the current seven to 33 schools over the next several years. 
  • The First Tee —A youth development program that provides learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development through the principles and play of golf, has pledged to expand their program reach and intensify its education focus to help decrease the dropout rate. Specifically, The First Tee is working to expand its successful National School Program into all 650 elementary schools in a dozen cities across the country that the Alliance is working closely with including Houston and New Orleans. When completed, the program will serve more than 335,000 students. The First Tee is also working to introduce its programming to Boys & Girls Clubs to serve even more children and youth.
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS )—A national nonprofit academic honor society with active chapters at more than 240 colleges and universities, NSCS chapters work with students in local schools to address the dropout rate through mentoring programs and by providing youth access to collegiate experiences and opportunities such as college visits, courses on college preparedness and access to financial aid. NSCS developed a Scholar of Promise program in support of the Alliance to honor its members at various chapters who have gone above and beyond in service to children and youth in their communities.

The presenting sponsor for the Dropout Prevention Campaign and Grad Nation is the State Farm Insurance Company. Other major sponsors and supporters include the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing, ING Foundation, United Way, Walmart Foundation, AT&T, The Boeing Company, the Pearson Foundation, and Jim and Donna Barksdale.

“We have a real opportunity with Grad Nation to come together and make real progress to ensure the success of our young people,” said Alma J. Powell, chair of America’s Promise Alliance. “The Alliance has learned so much over the past two years convening Dropout Prevention summits. Now it’s time to act on these lessons, and when just 12 percent of our schools account for half of all dropouts, it is clear where we should start.”  


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