Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner


February 2014


New Diplomas Now Schools in Jacksonville Busy with Banking, Bucks and Report Cards    


Diplomas Now schools in Jacksonville, Fla., last month held their second-quarter report card conferences. School district representatives and about 15 to 20 adults from the local community met with almost 200 students to reflect on their academic progress and set goals for the future. Students received certificates the day of the conferences and were to be recognized at an assembly to celebrate their successes.



Diplomas Now also opened a bank and store at Andrew Jackson Senior High. Students receive "DN bucks" from teachers for improving in attendance, behavior and course performance or for doing good deeds. Students can use their DN bucks to "buy" snacks, school supplies, clothing and other store items. They can also save their DN bucks in tracked "bank accounts" to use on future purchases from the school store. The bank and store teach basic banking skills while providing fun, engaging rewards to students. 





Take the Get Schooled Challenge: Attend School and Win Prizes 


Diplomas Now will launch an attendance challenge next month in partnership with Get Schooled, a national nonprofit, designed to increase school attendance. During this friendly competition, which will take place from March 3 through May 2, students will participate in weekly online activities to help develop academic and college readiness skills. The contest will award weekly prizes and incentives; the school that wins the challenge will get a celebrity principal for the day! Past Get Schooled celebrity principals have included Kendrick Lamar, Diggy Simmons, Bella Thorne, James Harden, Ne-Yo and Rocsi Diaz. Diplomas Now schools Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle was the national winner in 2011 and Browne Education Campus in Washington, D.C., was a divisional winner in 2012. Miami Edison Middle School was the regional winner for the winter 2013 competition. 



Attendance Highs: Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle Hits 97%!


Hats off to Aki Kurose Middle in Seattle for persistence in dramatically improving school attendance. In just four years of a partnership with Diplomas Now, Aki Kurose has moved the needle on attendance, jumping from an average attendance rate of 89.4 percent during the 2010-2011 school year to 97.4 percent this school year through December 2013. At the same time, the number of students going to school has increased at Aki Kurose: in 2010-2011, the school had 574 students; this year, 738 students attend. 




Improved Report Cards: Miami's Diplomas Now High Schools Boost State Grades 


Three Diplomas Now high schools in Miami showed steady improvement on state-issued "report cards" since 2009-2010. Carol City High School, for example, got a D in 2010 but last year got a B. The state gave Booker T. Washington an F in 2010 but last year the school pulled that up to a C. The school was just 10 points shy of an A but also was docked a letter grade because the school, which has a large percentage of English language learners, didn't meet the 25-percent proficient in reading standard on the state standardized test. Homestead High School missed a B by one point, up dramatically from the D in 2010. Florida grades its high schools based on student performance on standardized tests, graduation rates, participation in Advanced Placement classes and other factors. The state awards extra funding to schools that achieve an A or demonstrate exemplary improvement by improving their grades by at least one letter grade.



Big Community Service Project at Newtown High School for MLK Day of Service


On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, City Year New York and Communities In Schools New York joined hundreds of students, community volunteers and corporate sponsors at Newtown High School for the Annual MLK Day of Service. It was a school beautification day during which participants revitalized classrooms and painted murals. 




Tulsa Area United Way Honors the Growing Together Collaborative 


The Tulsa Area United Way gave the "Outstanding Community Collaborative" award to the Growing Together Collaborative in Tulsa at its annual luncheon on Feb. 18.

Growing Together is a community partnership supported by the Community Action Project of Tulsa County designed to bring organizations and residents together to find solutions that provide safe, supportive neighborhoods and schools. City Year, Talent Development Secondary and College Summit are part of the collaborative. In addition, Communities In Schools also is beginning to work in some of the Tulsa schools with City Year and Talent Development, notably Clinton Middle and Andrew Webster High School. Tulsa's recently featured report card conferences at both schools. Read the story here



Showcasing Diplomas Now to Policymakers  


Dr. Richard Ross, Ohio's state superintendent of public instruction, recently visited South High School, one of the Diplomas Now schools in Columbus. He met with staffers and learned more about the model during his visit.



Diplomas Now in the News!


Bob Balfanz and PepsiCo's Cynthia Trudell write about how the business community needs to partner with schools to help students develop job skills in this Crain's Chicago Business op-ed.




Bob Balfanz writes about the important role mentors play in getting kids to school in this Huffington Post blog. 






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