One student every 26 seconds drops out of high school in America. For an individual student who gives up on school—as nearly one million do each year—dropping out is a fast track to an underclass: dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated and three times more likely to be in poor health and unemployed than high school graduates.
I Dream Forward to a day when we have turned this crisis around and every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential. Across sectors, organizations are collaborating to end the dropout crisis. We are proud to be doing our part to make this dream a reality.
Addressing our nation’s urban education challenge begins with an effective, committed teacher—but in high-poverty schools it often takes so much more. What’s needed is a dramatic increase in the human capital—the extra people power—needed to take effective education reforms and school-based innovations to scale. National service is an ideal resource to meet this need.
City Year corps members, ages 17 – 25, partner with teachers to provide evidence-based academic, attendance and social-emotional supports. After school, they help students with homework and lead enrichment activities that extend the learning day. City Year AmeriCorps members are helping students stay in school and on track—or get back on track—to graduate.
A City Year Rhode Island corps member, Amelia Lavin, told me about David, a sixth grader, who spent every day with his head down on the desk, too frustrated, too far behind to participate in class. “I sat down next to him for the next ten months and talked to the hood until it was finally lifted, and then his head lifted off his desk,” she said. “And then his grades lifted—from a D to an A—and finally his confidence.”
This story and countless others inspire me. I believe passionately in the power of young adults to “give a year and change the world.” If we unleash the idealism of America’s young adults to serve at the scale required, with the training needed, in the nation’s highest-need urban schools, our nation’s young adults will lift the heads, lift the spirits and lift the sights of David and hundreds of thousands of more students who have enormous potential to succeed and help our nation flourish. To get there, it is certain that we must be bold. More importantly, we must be bold together to push our Dream Forward.