Nation’s Largest Alliance to Help Children Highlights Nashville’s and Other Cities’ Efforts to Reduce Dropout Rates and Bring the Five Promises to Youth
NASHVILLE – With research showing that when youth are provided with supportive home, school and community environments, their chances of success dramatically increase, the America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance) is bringing its Regional Best Practice Forum to Nashville on July 31st and Aug. 1st. Communities from across the country will share best practices, showing community leaders how to implement successful strategies, foster greater collaboration within communities and encourage participants to network with other leaders from all sectors who are focused on helping young people thrive. Nashville was chosen to host this important two-day forum because of the great progress its political leadership, nonprofits, public agencies, business community and school system have made in making children and youth the city’s top priority.
Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell will join the Alliance at the forum to discuss some of the important issues facing the nation, Tennessee and Nashville’s children alike.
“We’re extremely pleased to have been selected to host this important dialogue,” said Governor Bredesen. “From offering a high quality pre-K program to providing health insurance for children and expectant mothers through CoverKids, we’re taking the steps required to put every young person on the path for long-term success in school and beyond. We look forward to discussing these best practices with forum participants from across the country as we welcome them to Tennessee.”
“As a nation, we are not doing what is necessary to prepare our young people with the skills and resources they need to become successful adults. As a result, we are jeopardizing their future and putting our nation at risk in this increasingly competitive global economy,” said Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance and former Tennessee Commissioner of Human Services. “These forums are an opportunity for communities across the country to share successful programs and approaches and educate and encourage each other to implement similar initiatives that truly help our youngest citizens lead more productive, happier and healthier lives. With the Alignment Nashville program and Mayor Purcell’s stellar efforts, Nashville serves as a model community that is making great progress because they’ve put kids first.”
Founded by General Colin Powell, USA (Ret) in 1997, the Alliance has built a strong partnership network to deliver the Five Promises - caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others – to our nation’s youth. The key to the Alliance’s success has been sharing proven strategies to improve children’s lives among partners and between communities.
With Nashville’s high school dropout rate higher than the national average and a key issue in the city’s mayoral race, the forum will highlight the urgent need to increase the number of students graduating from high school across the country. Research shows that improving high school completion rates yields dividends in the form of higher lifetime incomes for those who graduate, higher tax contributions, fewer incarcerations and reduced dependence on public assistance. Yet, our nation’s dropout problem is growing. Every 29 seconds, another student gives up on school – with more than one million American high school students dropping out every year.* During the forum, communities will develop strategies for dropout prevention and gather the resources needed for a comprehensive and sustained campaign to improve graduation rates and outcomes for all students, including hosting their own state/local dropout summit.
In January, the Alliance honored Nashville as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People – communities large and small, rural and urban, across America dedicated to building strong communities that nurture young people. Mayor Bill Purcell and Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County have made considerable progress to improve the city’s education system by increasing the high school graduation rate from 57.8 percent during the 2002-03 school year to 60.3 percent during the 2004-05 school year and 68 percent for 2005-06.
Nashville has pioneered several innovative programs to prepare the city’s youth for greater success in life. Alignment Nashville facilitates community-wide collaboration in support of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ strategic plan to improve student achievement. In 1999, Mayor Purcell established the Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth, which has increased operational funding for schools, allocated over $360 million in new capital for school construction and maintenance, and provided funding for the city’s first-ever new Head Start facility. Hands On Nashville has 55 Kids Care Clubs in and around Nashville, housed in schools, community centers, and faith-based groups, engaging nearly 800 children in service-learning activities that empower them to learn more about their community and affect positive change.
"For 10 years, America's Promise has been building partnerships among government, businesses and non-profits with the purpose of preparing our children for tomorrow. No duty is more sacred. Nashville shares America's Promise to our children, and we welcome America's Promise warmly to our city," said Mayor Bill Purcell.
Other sessions at the forum will grant participants the opportunity to hear from a panel of young people who’ve faced difficult odds and are succeeding. They will also learn more about moving communities to action, the Alliance’s new campaign to improve the lives of 15 million disadvantaged young people and the national action strategies to support it, and methods for engaging parents and establishing policy supports. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from several community leaders from around the nation, including Durham, NC Mayor William Bell, who will share their own successful programs, also included are leaders from the following 100 Best Communities for Young People: Kalamazoo, MI, Little Rock, AR, Spartanburg, SC, Alexandria, VA, Toledo, OH, Dubuque, IA, New York, NY, Lenawee County, MI, School District of Oconee County, SC, Greater Midland, MI, Hanover County, VA, Saginaw County, MI and Nashville, TN.
For more information on the high school dropout problem, please visit: http://www.silentepidemic.org
About the America’s Promise Alliance - www.americaspromise.org
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources - the Five Promises – they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our children is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises - caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others - at home, in school and in the community.
*Bridgeland, John, John J. DiIulio, Jr., and Karen Morison. The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: March, 2006.