Local elected officials, business leaders and some of the most prominent child advocacy youth non-profit organizations in Pierce County are gathering October 9th to set an action plan for increasing the area’s high school graduation rate in order to ensure that Pierce County’s young people are better prepared for college, work and life.
Event planners include The United Way of Pierce County, Alliance for Youth of Pierce County, Communities In Schools of Lakewood, School’s Out Washington, Metro Parks Tacoma, YMCA of Tacoma-Pierce County, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Tacoma Public Schools, Bethel School District and the Northwest Leadership Foundation. Reps from Clover Park School District will be participating in the event.
In Pierce County, nearly 3 in 10 teens do not graduate with their class. “Far too many young people in Pierce County and across the nation are dropping out of school, leaving their future and that of our community at risk,” said Kelvin Ceasar, United Way of Pierce County. “We need to come together as a community like never before to provide the necessary supports to help our youth graduate from high school, so they are prepared for college and have the skills necessary to succeed in life.”
Experts agree that the well-being and prosperity of Pierce County and the nation is dependant upon an educated workforce. By 2010, two-thirds of all jobs will require post-secondary instruction. Yet today, millions enter the workforce lacking even basic skills for success. Young people who drop out are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school. Experts estimate that dropouts from the Class of 2006-07 will cost the U.S. more than $329 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes.
“It’s been a long and painful journey since I dropped out of school said Terrance Hamilton of Tacoma, but I now have a mentor who has my back, I have volunteered in the community to help other youth and now I am doing an Internship through AmeriCorps (Urban Leaders in Training) and working at the Threads Evening Reporting Center, an alternative to detention. Both are Initiatives of the Northwest Leadership Foundation (NLF) who as a community-based organization has embraced me. I am in the process of getting my GED because I know that I need an education in order to get a good job and take care of myself. I finally have the support I need and I am going for it. Next stop, COLLEGE!!”
Research shows that the more support youth have, both inside and outside of the classroom, the more likely they are to stay in school. Specifically, research demonstrates that the more young people experience five essential wrap-around supports, what the Alliance calls the “Five Promises” – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others – the greater their chance for future success.
The summit is part of America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Prevention Campaign, a national effort to reduce high school dropout rates and prepare children for college, work and life. The lead sponsor for the national campaign is the State Farm Insurance Company. State Farm is joined by AT&T, The Boeing Company, Casey Family Programs, Ford Motor Company Fund, ING Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.
For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit www.americaspromise.org, or call Kelvin Ceasar at 253-597-4257.