WASHINGTON, May 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, City Year announced a Long-Term Impact strategy designed to challenge the high school graduation status quo in America, dramatically increase the urban graduation pipeline, and transform the future for thousands of students nationwide.
Focusing on the schools where the urban graduation challenge is most concentrated and tapping the civic energy and talents of young adults in national service, the goal of City Year's ten-year strategy is to nearly double the number of students reaching the tenth grade on track to graduate in the schools where City Year serves, ensuring that at least 80% of the students in these schools are on track to graduate. At full scale, City Year will reach 900,000 students annually in more than 1,000 urban schools.
A $10 million pledge from longtime City Year supporters Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine will enable City Year to begin to build the capacities needed for achieving the impact and scale goals of City Year's Long-Term Impact strategy, with a special focus on enhancing the organization's systems for corps member recruitment, training and impact measurement.
"With only half of the nation's African American students and barely two-thirds of its Hispanic students completing high school on time, building the urban graduation pipeline in America is an economic, moral and civil rights imperative – and for the next decade and beyond, City Year is all in," said Michael Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of City Year. "We have a bold and exciting plan, and a visionary gift of $10 million from the Lavine family to begin to execute this strategy in earnest."
One million U.S. students drop out of school each year, and half of those dropouts come from just 12 percent of the nation's schools. If not addressed, the low graduation rates in America's urban communities will be the source of decreasing economic competitiveness and increasing inequality for the nation.
In response, City Year is launching a ten-year strategy to saturate America's highest need urban elementary, middle and high schools with highly trained City Year AmeriCorps members who advance school reform strategies and provide direct student supports by serving as full-time tutors, mentors and role models. Together, these teams of City Year AmeriCorps members will build a continuum of support from grades three through nine to keep students on track to graduation.
"City Year proves that poverty is not destiny," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was on hand for this morning's announcement. "Their work with children in struggling communities is providing the support needed to encourage and help students stay in school and be successful."
Over the next decade, City Year will scale its impact in the 23 U.S. cities where its corps members already serve as well as work with community leaders to expand to new markets with the highest concentration of dropouts – ultimately operating in cities that account for two-thirds of the nation's urban dropouts, and reach a majority of all off-track students in each of those cities.
City Year's Long Term Impact strategy is aligned with national education movements, including GradNation's Civic Marshall Plan. The strategy is also informed by Johns Hopkins University research that found that students at risk of dropping out can be identified as early as elementary school by three early warning indicators known as the ABC's: poor Attendance, disruptive Behavior and Course failure in math and English.
Utilizing the research-validated insight that students who progress to tenth grade on time with no early warning indicators are four times more likely to graduate than students who fall behind, City Year's Long-Term Impact strategy has clear and transformational goals at the student, school, district and national levels to significantly increase the nation's urban graduation pipeline – the number of urban students who reach the tenth grade on time and on track to graduate.
In City Year's plan, at-risk students in grades three through nine will receive multiple years of City Year interventions and supports that help them improve their attendance, develop positive social and emotional behaviors, and succeed in their academic performance. Once they reach the 10th grade, City Year will ensure that students have access to supports that will prepare them for college and career.
City Year AmeriCorps members serve full-time in schools implementing the Whole School Whole Child model to advance school-wide reform practices and provide individualized academic and social-emotional supports to students exhibiting any of the early warning indicators of poor attendance, disruptive behavior and course failure in math and English – the factors that are the strongest predictors of a student's risk of dropping out of school. Whole School Whole Child strengthens tiered student supports, improves coordination of teaching and learning, increases teacher effectiveness by allowing more time for differentiated instruction, and expands and optimizes learning time with before- and after-school tutoring.
"City Year and national service have a powerful role to play when it comes to helping students stay in school and on track," said Jonathan Lavine, Managing Partner of Sankaty Advisors, LLC and member of City Year's Board of Trustees. "Jeannie and I have been honored to be a part of the City Year family for the last twenty years, and we look forward to the next twenty. We have great confidence our support will further City Year's impact, growth, and its laser-like focus to help more students and schools succeed."
During their year of full-time service, corps members collaborate with teachers to identify students at most risk of dropping out, who are then placed on corps members' focus lists. Corps members work with students throughout the school day, providing academic and social-emotional supports rooted in corps members' near-peer relationships. City Year corps members provide the support needed for thousands of students to help them get ahead, get along and give back.
"City Year and AmeriCorps are showing that national service can tap the civic energy of young people to take on big challenges in America," said David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, as well as a Charter Trustee of City Year's national board. "City Year's plan to address the dropout crisis is inspiring, as is the Lavines' generous gift to support it. The energy and idealism of the younger generation is crucial to making sure students in high-need schools across America stay on track -- and, with this effort, City Year is boldly unleashing it in service of that cause."
City Year's Long-Term Impact strategy is being announced as City Year and AmeriCorps have seen a groundswell of applications from idealistic young people stepping forward to serve. Last year, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps received more than half a million applications for just 80,000 positions.
"Working in partnership with schools, districts and community partners and families, City Year's Long-Term Impact strategy will reach a significant number of youth in high-poverty schools nationwide, ensuring the right students receive the right interventions at the right time – and dramatically increasing the urban graduation pipeline in America. This collective effort will help transform low-performing schools and ensure thousands more families have access to a quality education," said City Year President Jim Balfanz.
About City Year
City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization founded in 1988, that partners with public schools to provide full-time targeted intervention for students most at risk of dropping out. In more than 20 communities across the United States and through two international affiliates, our teams of young AmeriCorps leaders support students by focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs that keep kids in school and on track to graduate.
SOURCE City Year