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America’s Promise Alliance Joins New Jersey Governor and Newark Mayor to Launch High School Graduation Campaign

America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell travelled to New Jersey this week to give the keynote address at the New Jersey Dropout Prevention Symposium. The symposium, held at Rutgers University-Newark, served as the official launch of the New Jersey High School Graduation Campaign, a year-long effort to combat the state’s high school dropout rate.

Mrs. Powell was joined by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, Alliance Founding Board Member Ray Chambers, New York University Professor Pedro Noguera and more than 500 partners representing schools, businesses, nonprofit and faith-based organizations across New Jersey.

The symposium is the first in a series of forums the state will host to tackle the issue of the high school dropout crisis, and craft solutions to keep kids in school and better prepare students for college, work, and life.

The campaign will conclude with a major statewide summit in fall 2009 where participants will present policy recommendations, identify best practices, and detail a strategic plan to facilitate collaboration between schools and nonprofit organizations and the corporate sector.

The Alliance is also working to sponsor city-wide summits in Newark and Jersey City, NJ.

“The Alliance is excited about our partnership with New Jersey and is committed to provide state and local leaders with the support and guidance they need to develop a comprehensive action plan that appropriately addresses the reasons why New Jersey youth are leaving school without a diploma,” said Alma Powell.

Mrs. Powell added, “Every school day 7,000 students drop out. This is a catastrophe that impacts our entire nation and is especially severe in some of our larger metropolitan areas. As parents, teachers, elected officials and education and business leaders, it’s our duty to come together to provide our young people with all the essential academic and life supports necessary for them to graduate on time, prepared for college or the job market.”

The New Jersey High School Graduation Campaign is aimed at reducing high school dropout rates by promoting support for students and their families, supporting teachers, cultivating school leaders, promoting business and community engagement and establishing high expectations and rigorous school curriculum.

The Alliance contributed $25,000 in a planning grant to the Attorney General’s Office to organize the High School Graduation Campaign. The Attorney General’s Office is the lead state agency in Governor Corzine’s Strategy for Safe Streets and Neighborhoods, an anti-crime initiative that focuses partly on reducing and preventing youth violence and gang activity.

In addition to America’s Promise Alliance, the New Jersey High School Graduation Campaign is supported by several foundations, businesses, schools and community organizations including The MCJ/Amelior Foundation, the Nicholson Foundation, the Newark Alliance, and Verizon.