United Way releases data to increase graduation rates

United Way releases data to increase graduation rates

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by AMY COWMAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 9:09 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Helping at-risk children graduate from high school is the goal of the United Way’s Collective Impact Program. It’s a new push to curb the dropout rate for local students. The United Way has released some new information showing a number of non-profit agencies and how they can best go about helping these kids graduate.

A group of Vance High School students didn't go home after the final bell.  They're getting some extra help from Communities in Schools, an agency for at-risk kids.
 
"We wrap them in a community of support.  We make sure they have supports they need so they can be successful in school," said Molly Shaw, Executive Director of Communities in Schools.
 
Whether it is academic help for classes they struggle in or behavioral support or discussion about not skipping school, the goal is to get them to graduate, which for many in Charlotte schools is an uphill battle.
 
"There's a chance in some places that when you walk in the door there's a 50/50 chance that you may not graduate," said Shaw.
 
Now the agency, along with 15 others who work with an estimated 7,000 at-risk kids, have some additional help. The United Way's Collective Impact program released a new baseline data report.
 
"So then we'll start the hard work of what's working where, what's maybe not working, what can we do better, what's program X doing that program Y is not doing that we need to incorporate," said United Way of Central Carolina Executive Director Jane McIntyre.
 
The data showed an estimated 72 percent of the kids involved are African American, 17 percent Hispanic with 60 percent of them attending high poverty schools.  Slightly more than half are female and each student had an average of nine absences in the year before entering the program.
 
"So this helps us determine what types of programming certain students need," said Shaw.
 
So students like these at Vance increase their chances of staying in school and making it to graduation day.
 
"We really get to understand what are the needs driving that behavior and then how do we work to collaborate and work with other partners so that we can mitigate those challenges and give kids what they need so they're sitting in class ready to learn," said Shaw.
 
The study was funded by a grant from Wells Fargo Foundation and included more than 8,000 unique participants.

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