How am I feeling? “Fired up,” in the words of the City Year corps members. I just returned from the opening session at City Year’s National Leadership Summit, where it unveiled its 10-year strategy to build the nation’s urban graduation pipeline.
The statistics are abysmal when it comes to the urban dropout crisis. Every 26 seconds, a student gives up on attending high school in our country. Approximately 1.2 million students are dropping out every year, and half of these dropouts come from 12 percent of our schools. The cost of these dropouts to the nation over the next decade is estimated at $3 trillion. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared, this is the “civil rights issue of our generation.”
Yet, amidst the dreary statistics, City Year provides hope by articulating today a bold, yet believable goal focused on reversing the trends and addressing this issue at the magnitude that it exists. Its bold goal:
Students who progress to 10th grade with their peers are three times more likely to graduate than students who fall behind. The goal is to ensure 80% of the students in the schools City Year serves reach 10th grade on track and on time, and to serve the majority of at-risk students in the locations where City Year serves. City Year will focus that service in the communities where the dropout challenge is most concentrated, ultimately serving in the cities that account for two-thirds of the nation’s urban dropouts.
As our experience suggests, finding the right balance between bold and believable in creating a goal and strategy is a critical starting point to achieving transformational change. City Year has done a great job of laying out a precise strategy for how they would achieve their long-term goal by harnessing the talent and energy of City Year’s corps members to help students in struggling urban schools. One can see that it is possible. See it for yourself by viewing a video summary or learning more on the City Year website.
Congratulations to City Year for all that you have accomplished and will accomplish on behalf of our nation’s youth!