Press Release

America’s Promise Alliance and AT&T Announce GradNation Acceleration Grant Recipients in Five States

AT&T commits $2.5 million to continue its investment in the GradNation campaign focused on improving high school graduation rates and student outcomes

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2018)America’s Promise Alliance, with generous support from AT&T, announced today the selection of five GradNation Acceleration Grant recipients, as part of the GradNation campaign to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. The selected grantees represent state and community efforts poised to accelerate progress for more young people to high school graduation and post-secondary success.

Totaling $800,000 over the two-year grant period, each of the two state grantees will receive $250,000 and each of the three community grantees will receive $100,000. Roughly 5,000 young people are estimated to be impacted across all five grantees.

This work of the GradNation campaign is a continuation of a decade-long undertaking. During that time, the national graduation rate has increased from 73 percent to its current all-time high of 84.1 percent. That increase represents more than 2 million additional young people who were able to graduate from high school with their class over the past decade. But while the nation’s young people have made great progress, there remains more work to be done. GradNation Acceleration Grants will provide the support that communities need to further their efforts.

“We know that the most significant improvements of the national high school graduation rate will happen on the local level – in districts and communities working each day to meet the individual needs of young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “The final grantees were selected because they demonstrated a deep understanding of the specific student populations needing additional support and have a track record for maximizing the resources and partnerships to meet those student needs.”

“The GradNation campaign continues to demonstrate progress at increasing our nation’s high school graduation rate while also helping students pursue high quality, post-secondary degrees.  Both of which are critical steps to creating a skilled and diverse workforce,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility and president of the AT&T Foundation. “It is important that we continue to invest in work that helps move students across the high school graduation stage and gets them ready for the next phase of life.”

Applications were submitted from 10 priority states that would have a measurable impact on improving the national graduation rate and closing equity gaps.  In total, there were more than 100 applicants – all committed to improving graduation rate outcomes for a specific group of students using strategies aligned to the GradNation Action Platform. The platform identifies six areas that every community should act on to accelerate their high school graduation rate.

GradNation Acceleration Grantees are as follows:

States

  • GEORGIA - Georgia Division of Family and Children Services – Project Graduate 2.0: Unlocking the Power and Potential of Georgia's Foster Youth: The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services uses high-quality data to identify, implement, and sustain best practices to support foster youth in Fulton and DeKalb Counties. While the state averages a 79 percent graduation rate, only 11 percent of foster students earn diplomas— an issue compounded by the growth of youth in foster care by 80 percent in the last four years. Foster youth face disruptions to their education that lead to academic underperformance and increase the likelihood of their leaving school prior to graduating. In response, the program intends to strengthen the system’s capacity to address the needs of foster youth through advisory workgroups, research on program impact, and cross-agency collaborative learning.
     
  • MICHIGAN - Youth Solutions Inc. – Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates:  Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) will expand its model into low-graduation-rate high schools across the state. Michigan’s graduation rate is 79.7 percent and large graduation rate gaps by race and income persist. Dropout Prevention and Recovery efforts will include career mentoring, career advising and exposure, training, and competency-based curriculum, as well as 12 months of follow up after high school graduation. With support from over 50 local and national partners, and a strong relationship with the state employment agency, JMG’s approach connects students with learning beyond the classroom that prepares them to succeed through high school and into the workforce.

Communities

  • ALBUQUERQUE - United Way of Central New Mexico – Mission: Graduate: Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is a majority Hispanic district serving high rates of students living in poverty and learning English. In 2016, the district’s 4-year graduation rate was 66 percent. In response, United Way of Central New Mexico’s collective impact initiative Mission: Graduate will partner with APS’s Rio Grande High School to expand the use of the school’s early warning system program to support off-track juniors and seniors and work to re-engage youth who have already left school. These students will gain access to college and career exploration opportunities in addition to mentors and counselors.
     
  • GREELY-EVANS - Greeley-Evans District 6 – Every Student Matters: Accelerating Graduation Rates and Decreasing Dropout Rates: Greeley-Evans School District 6 in northeastern Colorado has a graduation rate of 77.1 percent and will focus its efforts on students at the Greeley Alternative Program (GAP) in partnership with Zero Dropouts. GAP enrolls students at risk of dropping out of high school or who face barriers to success in traditional high schools by providing an innovative instructional program combined with wraparound services. With support from partners, the district provides these students with supports including childcare and housing assistance, in addition to career pathway options like a paid internship or access to personalized tutoring.
     
  • BOYLE HEIGHTS - Proyecto Pastoral – Boyle Heights English Learner Acceleration Project:  A collaborative in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Promesa Boyle Heights has been actively working to improve graduation rates in the community since 2012. Together with the community, Promesa Boyle Heights has been able to improve graduation rates in the region to 82 percent, however, EL students only have a 52 percent graduation rate. Promesa Boyle Heights will expand these efforts to the alternative campus, Boyle Heights High School, thus allowing for a deeper focus on Long-Term English Learners (LTELs) and Newcomer ELs. Promesa Boyle Heights also aims to increase school capacity to address EL needs and develop student and parent skills to advocate for policies and practices that directly support EL students.

America’s Promise sought to support local efforts poised to impact high school completion and the national graduation rate. Proposals were expected to describe a state or community effort that demonstrated (1) an understanding of school-level and community-level graduation rates and related data, (2) a collaborative relationship with high school(s) and/or the district, and (3) a commitment to meet the needs of students most at-risk of not graduating: low-income students, Black and Hispanic/Latino students, students with disabilities, English learners, and those served by low-graduation rate high schools.

The intended outcomes for this work include: an increase to the graduation rate, shared learning for adoption and replication in other states and communities, and strengthened local capacity to improve outcomes for young people based on their needs and strengths.

To learn more, visit http://gradnation.americaspromise.org/gradnation-acceleration-grant.

 ###

About America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance leads an alliance of organizations, communities, and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the 21st-century workforce. For more information, visit www.AmericasPromise.org.