Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner


June 2014


As the School Year Ends, Diplomas Now Schools Celebrate Gains  


As the 2013-2014 school year ends, a number of Diplomas Now schools are reporting reductions in the number of students off-track in attendance, behavior and course performance. The results are still coming in, but here are a few highlights:

  • Broadmoor Middle School in East Baton Rouge met its all of its attendance, behavior and course performance goals with 92 percent of students on track in behavior. 
  • Clippert Middle School in Detroit saw a 67-percent decrease in chronically absent students, a 55-percent decrease in students failing English and a 66-percent drop in students failing math. 
  • Clinton Middle School in Tulsa met its goals and reduced the number of students off-track in attendance by 54 percent and in behavior by 88 percent. The school also reduced the number of students failing English by 65 percent and math by 61 percent. 
  • Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio reduced the number of students failing English by 86 percent and math by 63 percent.  


Congrats to all students, teachers and Diplomas Now teams in all our schools for working so hard and making great progress. Enjoy the summer!



Thank You PepsiCo Foundation for Your Support! 


The PepsiCo Foundation recently made a $5 million commitment to Diplomas Now, increasing its total investment to $16.1 million. The new grant will help serve an additional 33,000 students and support Diplomas Now operations through 2016-2017, enabling the extension of a major, independent evaluation of the model. "Diplomas Now offers a unique and compelling solution to America's education crisis," said Kristina Mangelsdorf, Senior Director of the PepsiCo Foundation. "We are pleased to deepen our relationship and increase our commitment to this promising program that increases student achievement and keeps young people on the path to graduation."  PepsiCo employees will continue to mentor students at Diplomas Now schools and play an active role in their education. Read more about the new grant in Philanthropy News Digest.



New Report: U.S. High School Graduation Rates Highest in U.S. History


For the first time in U.S. history, the nation's high school graduation rate rose above 80 percent, according to the 2014 Building a GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic report released in late April by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. While more than eight in 10 public high school students are graduating on time, Building a GradNation shows more good news: the number of students enrolled in dropout factories has dropped 47 percent over the last decade, students of color have led the way in increasing graduation rates and leaving dropout factory high schools, and these increases have come as standards to graduate have gotten tougher. The report was written by Bob Balfanz and other researchers.  Diplomas Now's Clinton Middle School in Los Angeles was featured in the report for its impressive outcomes. Read more here.



Diplomas Now Students and Schools Win Accolades, Awards and Adventures:



The 2014 Attendance Challenge

Celebrity principals Flo Rida and Ace Hood pose with students from Miami Edison.

Congratulations to Miami Edison Middle School (overall winner) and South High School (high school winner & overall runner-up) in Columbus, Ohio, for excelling in the 2014 Diplomas Now & Get Schooled Attendance Challenge! The challenge encouraged 6th-12th grade students in 21 of the Diplomas Now schools to stay focused on education by increasing their school attendance and engaging in education exercises online. The winning schools' improvements in attendance and active participation in the online activities led to their success. Both schools were rewarded with celebrations. At Miami Edison, rappers Flo Rida and Ace Hood visited the school, with Flo Rida serving as principal for the day. Students with the most points received autographed bags and notebooks, and Flo Rida gave skateboards to students with perfect attendance. Thanks to all who participated! Your awesome commitment led to a 2.27% overall attendance increase across participating schools. Read the story here.    



Diplomas Now Students Blast Off for Space Camp in Turkey   

Six eighth-grade students from New York City's John Ericsson Middle School 126, an environmental engineering magnet school, are heading to Turkey later this month for space camp, one of three camps in the world run by NASA. The students - Dominick Allen, Christopher Alston, Elizabett Baez, Idaliza Pena, Millaine Sena and Christina Warrington - are some of the top performers at the school and were selected for the trip due to their achievement. Read the story here


Special Recognition for Aki Kurose Middle School

Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle was recognized at the inaugural Road Map Project Awards Program for its work on advancing equity and closing the opportunity gap. Judges scored each of the 21 finalists in the areas of results/impact achieved, use of data for improvement, and parent/community engagement and collaboration. The Road Map Project Awards Program hopes to advance equity and eliminate opportunity gaps by celebrating and encouraging the spread of great work in South King County and South Seattle. Aki Kurose also earned the 2013 Washington Achievement Award for high progress from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And the school won $10,000 to support its work in mathematics from Symetra Heroes in the Classroom, partnership with the Seattle Seahawks. 



John Hope Prep High School Holds Report Card Conferences


Dozens of community members, including 10 PepsiCo employees, met this spring with more than 300 students from Chicago's John Hope College Prep High School to review grades on students' latest report cards and set goals. The conversations helped students better understand how their daily decisions affect their attendance, behavior and course performance. Report card conferences are a standard practice at many Diplomas Now schools. Volunteers meet with students, offering guidance on many issues. The feedback was very positive. "As you can see I had an excellent report card. It does not get any better than all A's," Terriungha Dobson said. "But they did more than talk about our grades. We talked about stuff like social media, bad influences and stuff that was real helpful."  For some, the mentoring taught them about useful resources. "Trig ain't no joke! I have got to study harder this marking period if I want to bring my grade up," said junior Steve Harris. "My mentor suggested I get a tutor and I think she is right." Report card conferences help ensure that every student has the support needed to improve in the classroom. Read more here



Diplomas Now Featured at Education Writers Association National Conference


Diplomas Now Field Manager Daniel Velasco spoke to a packed room of journalists on a panel called "Solving the High School Dropout Problem" at the Education Writers Association national conference in Nashville in mid-May. Velasco spoke movingly about his own experience, growing up as an English language learner who had some learning issues. "I went back to school because someone pointed out the alarming statistics for students like me," he told the group. He explained how Diplomas Now works in schools and spoke about its success in keeping kids on track to graduation. 



Diplomas Now in the News!


Bob Balfanz Highlights Diplomas Now in this New York Times op-ed.

NPR and Miami's WLRN and Al Jazeera America TV Feature Diplomas Now at Carol City High School:


Detroit News Features Diplomas Now at Clippert Middle School in this story.


Bob Balfanz Suggests Diplomas Now as a Promising Approach in an interview with Tavis Smiley.

Youth Radio Features Early-Warning Indicator Meetings at Clinton Middle School in this story






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