CLEVELAND, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- They said it couldn't be done -- graduation rates for girls at a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school that rival suburban graduation rates. But non-profit organization Project Love has developed a program that could be the key to transforming the lives of millions of young women nationwide.
Five years ago, then Collinwood High School Principal Deborah Moore identified the eighth grade girls entering the school at greatest risk for dropping out in the next year. According to the Ohio Department of Education, Collinwood High School had a graduation rate of 52.7 percent in 2009-2010, lower than the overall Cleveland Metropolitan School District average of 62.8 percent.
Moore used criteria including failing test scores on the Ohio achievement test, a high level of absences, suspensions, or high age for grade level. Seventy-two girls were identified, and 71 entered Project Love's "Believe to Achieve" four-year trial program aimed at providing the skills and support needed to encourage the teenagers to stay in school.
This month, 51 of the young women who entered the program as ninth graders received diplomas – 71 percent of those who began the program. In addition, seven others are expected to successfully complete the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). Many will attend college. Even more remarkable, eight of the top 11 academic achievers honored at commencement were "Believe to Achieve" participants.
Project Love Chairman Ratanjit Sondhe said, "These young women were transformed from under-achievers into super-achievers with this program as the only major factor changing in their lives." Funding is needed to expand the program to 12 Cleveland public high schools next year.
The pilot program at Collinwood was funded by Alcoa Inc. with additional support from the Crittenden Foundation, the Norma & Al Geller Foundation, Lubrizol, Al & Laura Siegal, Sol Siegal, Michael & Anita Siegal and Westfield Insurance.
The graduates and their Project Love mentor, Julie Wynne Martin, will be honored at 6 pm June 20 at The Club at Key Center at a celebration attended by local business and civic leaders.
"We hope to inspire other corporations and foundations to provide funding so we can continue this important work," said Ken Lanci, chairman emeritus for Project Love.
SOURCE Project Love