GradNation Acceleration Initiative
GradNation Campaign Acceleration Initiative
The nation has come together around the goal of a 90 percent national graduation rate, but with the most recent data indicating a rate of 85.3% in 2018, we still have work to do. To reach the goal of a 90 percent national graduation rate, we must more intentionally meet the needs of young people who face the greatest systemic barriers to graduation. Fortunately, we have made steady progress and in the process have learned valuable lessons about what states and communities are doing to identify and address young people’s unique needs so they are more likely to graduate ready and well for whatever their futures hold. In 2017, to gain clearer insight into the promising approaches states and communities across the country are utilizing to support young people to and through graduation, the GradNation campaign at America’s Promise launched the Acceleration Initiative, a two-year investment in five sites across the United States that are working to support specific student groups who face significant barriers to graduation.
Below, you will find more information about the Acceleration Initiative and each selected site. You can also browse our most important learnings from the past two years, presented in the form of three case studies. Each case study focuses on a specific learning theme, sharing examples of how graduation rates improve when those themes are put into action. To dive deeper into these examples and hear directly from young people about their experiences, GradNation will be hosting a three-part webinar series from July through September. You can register for one or multiple webinars here.
For more information, please contact [email protected].
Case Study: Holistic Approaches to Helping Young People Succeed
This case study examines the complex barriers to success in school and life that many of today’s young people face and suggests strategies to support their holistic needs in an intentional, comprehensive way. Each of the five sites takes an intentional approach to meeting the social, emotional, and situational needs of young people through counseling, family supports, health and wellness programming, or other measures to ensure that students come to school ready to learn and thrive.
Case Study: Building Responsive Pathways to Graduation and Beyond
This case study outlines strategies to create meaningful pathways that lead young people to viable career opportunities after they complete high school. This brief provides tangible examples of the ways in which these sites are offering and integrating internships, work-based learning, and/or work-readiness education to ensure students can secure and maintain meaningful work.
Case Study: Creating Effective Youth-Supporting Partnerships
This case study highlights the ways in which states and communities have leveraged strategic collaboration to align efforts to promote success for students facing the greatest obstacles to graduation. Through the Acceleration sites, we have learned a great deal about the importance of caring adult relationships as well as relationships between the adults themselves.
Acceleration Initiative Sites
These five sites range from community non-profits to government partnerships with school districts, but each utilizes an intentional and impressive approach when it comes to improving graduation rates among students who face the greatest barriers. We selected organizations that had a proven track record of success, understood the data that represents their youth experiences, and have the keys to act on that data to improve graduation rates. The intended outcomes of these investments included an increased graduation rate among the supported population, shared learning for adoption and replication in other states and communities, and strengthened local capacity to improve outcomes for young people based on their needs and strengths.
Youth Solutions Inc. - Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) will expand its model into low-graduation rate high schools across the state. Michigan’s graduation rate is 79.7 percent and large graduation rate gaps by race and income persist. Dropout Prevention and Recovery efforts will include mentoring, career advising and exposure, training, and competency-based curriculum, as well as 12 months of follow-up after high school graduation. With support from over 50 local and national partners, and a strong relationship with the state’s Department of Talent and Economic Development, JMG’s approach connects students with learning beyond the classroom that prepares them to succeed through high school and into the workforce.
The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services uses high-quality data to identify, implement, and sustain best practices to support foster youth in Fulton and DeKalb Counties. The state averages a 79 percent graduation rate, but only 11 percent of foster students earn diplomas; the number of foster youth increased 80 percent in the last four years. Foster youth face disruptions to their education that lead to academic underperformance and increase the likelihood of their leaving school prior to graduating. In response, the program intends to strengthen the system’s capacity to address the needs of foster youth through advisory workgroups, research on program impact, and cross-agency collaborative learning.
Greeley-Evans School District 6 in northeastern Colorado has a graduation rate of 78.7 percent (2017) and will focus its efforts on students at the Greeley Alternative Program (GAP) in partnership with Zero Dropouts. GAP enrolls students at risk of dropping out of high school or who face barriers to success in traditional high schools by providing an innovative instructional program combined with wraparound services. With support from partners, the district provides these students with supports including childcare, housing assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling. The district also seeks to provide every student with a paid internship, concurrent enrollment in a CTE and/or general education courses, and access to personalized tutoring.
Since 2013, United Way of Central New Mexico has worked with over 300 local, regional, state, and national partners to develop and implement a cradle-to-career education partnership, called Mission: Graduate. Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is a majority Hispanic district serving high rates of students living in poverty and learning English. In 2016, the district’s 4-year graduation rate was 66 percent. As partners in Mission: Graduate, United Way and APS will work with Rio Grande High School to expand use of the school’s early warning system program to support off-track juniors and seniors and work to re-engage youth who have already left school. These students will gain access to college and career exploration opportunities in addition to mentors and counselors.
Proyecto Pastoral is the backbone organization of Promesa Boyle Heights, a collaborative of residents, organizations, and schools working in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The schools in this region have an 82 percent graduation rate, but English Learner (EL) students only have a 52 percent graduation rate. Promesa Boyle Heights has been actively working to improve overall community graduation rates since 2012. Promesa Boyle Heights will expand these efforts by deepening supports for English Learners at Mendez and Roosevelt High School, and expand support to English Learners at the alternative campus, Boyle Heights High School, focusing on Long-Term English Learners (LTELs) and Newcomer ELs. In identifying practices for these types of ELs, Promesa Boyle Heights aims to inform school capacity to address EL needs and develop student and parent skills to advocate for ELs.