PepsiCo Foundation, City Year, Communities In Schools and Johns Hopkins Talent Development Announce “Diplomas Now”
Research-based Dropout Intervention Program Rolls Out in
Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Antonio
PURCHASE, N.Y. and LOS ANGELES – Sept. 23, 2009 –The PepsiCo Foundation today announced a three-year, $5 million grant to Diplomas Now, an initiative that will unite three proven players in U.S. high school dropout prevention – City Year, Communities In Schools and Johns Hopkins Talent Development. The organizations are combining their expertise and resources to help turn around America’s most challenged middle and high schools, those that produce a majority of the country’s dropouts.
Using ground-breaking research that identifies students most likely to drop out, the partners will match interventions to individual students. Piloted last year in Philadelphia, Diplomas Now is expanding to Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Antonio this year.
“Diplomas Now is part of PepsiCo Foundation’s expanding commitment to ensuring that a high-quality public education is within reach for all of America’s students,” said Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer and chairman of PepsiCo Foundation. “We are proud to support the collaboration of three outstanding organizations as they focus their considerable experience and passion for working with children and schools on a joint initiative that is helping youth across the country stay in school and reach their goals.”
Diplomas Now responds to ground-breaking research developed by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools and the Philadelphia Education Fund that shows 75 percent of America’s high school dropouts can be identified between sixth and ninth grades by tracking poor attendance, poor behavior and course failure in English or Math. Diplomas Now uses these early warning signs to identify students most likely to drop out and provides a “second shift” of caring adults who have the time, expertise and commitment to identify and meet the unique needs of individual students.
“To solve the dropout crisis, we need research-based solutions strong enough to transform our most challenged schools,” said Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Talent Development Middle Grades and High Schools programs at Johns Hopkins University. “We need a reform that will turn around the whole school, while delivering the right intervention to the right student at the right time.”
The partner organizations will bring resources and expertise to underserved schools in the following ways:
- City Year brings diverse teams of young leaders in full-time service to schools as “near peers” who focus on improving students’ attendance, behavior and coursework, and support overall student success.
- Communities In Schools provides a school-based coordinator who connects students with community resources, such as healthcare, mentors, tutors and after-school programs to address students’ unmet social needs and help them focus on learning.
- Talent Development provides comprehensive school improvement through evidence-based curriculum and instruction, school organization and extensive professional development.
“Through Diplomas Now, we have the best of three worlds,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president of Communities In Schools. “The combination of Communities In Schools, City Year and Talent Development provides schools with on-site experts who are committed to targeting student needs; it’s an approach with the potential to substantially increase the graduation rate among students served in some of America’s most challenged public schools.”
“National service has an important role to play in strengthening America and taking on some of the toughest problems we face, especially in our schools,” said Michael Brown, chief executive officer and co-founder of City Year. “City Year’s dedicated AmeriCorps members are focused on helping students stay in school and on track, and Diplomas Now is an important new partnership for making that happen.”
Diplomas Now was successfully piloted at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia during the 2008-09 school year. Data from the first year indicates that this initiative can improve student attendance, behavior and coursework. The school reached Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a measurement defined by the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act. Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF), which has been a partner from research to pilot, provided training and technical assistance at Feltonville and will serve as the technical assistance partner as Diplomas Now moves across the country.
“Having a program like Diplomas Now makes a big difference,” said Nelson Reyes, Feltonville’s principal. “Teachers can focus on teaching, and a dedicated team of professionals is focusing on the things necessary to create conditions for our students to learn.”
A congressional briefing, co-sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation and Dr. Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University, will be held at 11 a.m. EST on Sept. 29 at the Congressional Visitors Center. The briefing is designed to showcase the first-year results of Diplomas Now and examine how federal policy can help expand effective solutions to put an end to the nation’s dropout crisis.
Additional information can be found online at www.DiplomasNow.org.
For more information on the research conducted by Johns Hopkins Center for Social Organization of Schools and the Philadelphia Education Fund visit http://www.philaedfund.org/research/index.htm.
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