SALT LAKE CITY, Sep. 23, 2013 — Three years. One hundred communities. One mission: raise high school graduation rates and support young people, both in and out of school.
On Sept. 16, the 100 Grad Nation Community Summits campaign began in St. Louis. In coming years it will arrive in 99 more communities to draw attention to a problem America’s Promise Alliance Chairwoman Alma Powell calls “the civil rights issue of our time.”
As partner to school districts across the nation for serving students who have dropped out, Graduation Alliance leaders said they are proud to help sponsor the campaign.
“We have to change a paradigm that, for far too long, suggested some students were expendable,” said Graduation Alliance CEO Ray Kelly. “There is no such thing as an expendable student.”
U.S. schools are now graduating a greater share of their students than at any time in many decades – about 75 percent of students are now completing high school on time – but there is still much work to be done, said America’s Promise president John Gomperts.
“The progress we’ve made in improving graduation rates is something to be proud of and a signal to accelerate and intensify our campaign,” Gomperts said. “The only way we will meet the 90 percent gradation goal is to activate communities, organizations and people to provide young people the support and accountability they need to succeed… That is what these summits will help achieve. We’re deeply grateful to partners like Graduation Alliance that have stepped up to support this work.”
Graduation Alliance co-founder and chief academic officer Rebekah Richards said complacency is not an option.
“We can’t stop now,” she said. “Dropped out students are more likely to be jobless, homeless, incarcerated or dependent on our nation’s social services safety net. They’re more likely to have long-term health problems, and even to be victims of crimes.”
If a disease was having that kind of impact on so many children, Richards said, “we would call it an epidemic and pull out all the stops to end it. That’s what we have to do about the dropout epidemic.”