Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner


December 2014


We want to wish all Diplomas Now staffers, everyone at our partner schools and all of our students a warm holiday season!


Thank you so much for everything you do to help our students succeed. We hope you enjoy some well-deserved vacation time with your families and loved ones.


We recently compiled our 2013-2014 results across all Diplomas Now schools and wanted to share that good news with you. During the 2013-2014 school year, Diplomas Now achieved a:

  • 41% reduction in students with less than 85% attendance
  • 62% reduction in suspended students
  • 58% reduction in students failing English
  • 54% reduction in students failing math 

Overall, these percentages of students were on track by the end of the 2013-2014 school year:

  • 76% in attendance
  • 89% in behavior
  • 89% in English
  • 88% in math

All Diplomas Now staffers have much to be proud of! Let's keep up the great work this year!!




Doug Elmer
Diplomas Now

Bob Balfanz
Everyone Graduates Center

Charles Hiteshew

Talent Development Secondary

Jim Balfanz

City Year

Dan Cardinali 

Communities In Schools




New Generous Grants Awarded to Diplomas Now!


We are delighted to announce that the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has awarded Diplomas Now a $1.5 million challenge grant that must be matched by another $1.5 million from donors. The funds will be used to support the work at the Diplomas Now partner schools in the Investing in Innovation study in Miami and New York City. Thank you to the Kenan Charitable Trust, based in Chapel Hill and named after the late North Carolina businessman who helped Henry Flagler develop the Florida East Coast Railway and the Florida East Coast Hotel Company, which included the Breakers Hotel.


On a local level, Linden-McKinley STEM Academy in Columbus, Ohio, has received two grants from local foundations. The Siemer Family Foundation and the Ingram/White Castle Foundation each are providing grants of $15,000 to help cover the cost of the Talent Development school transformation facilitator at the school. Both foundations are under the auspices of The Columbus Foundation. 



Diplomas Now Principals Meet in Miami; Among the Topics: Teaching and Technology


Nineteen Diplomas Now principals gathered in Miami in early December as part of the fourth principals' institute - an opportunity for school leaders to share their experiences as they became champions for Diplomas Now within their communities. The group visited Allapattah Middle School and Booker T. Washington High School to see Diplomas Now in action.


The principals - from schools in Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, East Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Seattle - focused on strategies to improve students' course performance. They also discussed ways to expand schools' ability to intervene, particularly for students who most need help. 


Technology was a hot topic. Julio Garcia from Rhodes Middle School talked about how students use "quick response" codes, known as QR codes - those scannable images that form a barcode - to get information about homework or class syllabi. The group also viewed the latest video from Gregg Howell and Jeffrey Robinson, "The Principal's Blog", about how to create popular blogs.   



And the Winners Are... 



Big congrats to the October and November 2014 Diplomas Now Attendance Challenge winners!! Winning schools will receive a pizza party for their Diplomas Now teams and school leadership teams for their great work!


For November, schools with the highest attendance on-track rates are: 


1.  Newtown High School in New York

2.  Clinton Middle School in Los Angeles


Our most improved schools from November 2013 to November 2014 are:


1. Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C., and Newtown High School in New York - both up 35 percent

2. Denny International Middle School in Seattle 


Our 90-90 club is for schools where at least 90% of the students had a 90% on-track rate. Members of the 90/90 club in November are:  


1. Newtown High School

2. Clinton Middle School

3. Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio


For October, schools with the highest attendance on-track rates were:


1. Newtown High School in New York

2. Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle


Our most improved schools from October 2013 to October 2014 were:


1. Manual Arts Senior High School in Los Angeles

2. Denny International Middle School in Seattle


October 90-90 club winners were:


1. Aki Kurose in Seattle

2. Clippert Academy in Detroit

3. Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio

4. Denny International Middle School in Seattle

5. Wilson Middle School in Philadelphia

6. Newtown High School in New York - Big shout out to Newtown - this year's first high school member of the 90/90 club!


We would also like to recognize our high schools on the move! Each of the following schools had double-digit improvements in attendance from October 2013 to October 2014:


1. Newtown High School in New York

2. Manual Arts Senior High School in Los Angeles

3. Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

4. Gage Park High School in Chicago




Save the Date for the 7th Annual Diplomas Now Summer Institute!


Please mark your calendars for the next Diplomas Now Summer Institute on Tuesday, July 7 and Wednesday, July 8. The summer institute will be hosted by our partner city, Tulsa, Okla., at the Hyatt Regency Tulsa. Special thanks to the PepsiCo Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation for their support of the summer institute. Attendees will include: 

  • School site teams: school transformation facilitators, program managers and site coordinators
  • School principals (who will also be invited to attend the 2015 Principals' Institute, directly following the summer institute)
  • Citywide teams: field managers, City Year operations team members, Communities In Schools Operations team members, City Year executive team members, Communities In Schools executive team members
  • Talent Development Secondary regional directors and instructional facilitators
  • Diplomas Now national staff
  • Invited guests

More information, including registration instructions, will be distributed in the coming months.




Miami Students Raise Awareness of Problem Affecting Other Students: Homelessness


Students at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami helped bring attention to an issue that plagues many of the school's students: homelessness. About 50 students created and displayed banners and posters to educate their community.


"Most kids don't realize how prevalent it is," said Derrick Moore, the school transformation facilitator at Booker T. Washington. "They might be sitting next to a classmate who is in transition. To see other students supporting homelessness awareness makes those in transition feel more supported."


With their banners and posters, students stood outside at three different locations near the school, educating drivers and pedestrians. Moore says many students at Booker T. Washington don't have a permanent place to live and may be living on relatives' or friends' couches.


Moore says that some of the students wanted to get involved because they have experienced transition themselves. But it was significant to have students who have not experienced homelessness to be involved as well. The effort was held during national hunger and homelessness awareness week in November.


"It's important for them to understand we have students in these situations," Moore said. "The students really enjoyed the experience and getting behind a cause. As they are getting older, they are finding more value in helping others."



Math Teacher at Clippert Academy in Detroit Wins Honor 


The Michigan Lottery honored Clippert Academy sixth grade math teacher Joseph Lacey with its "Excellence in Education" Award on September 24 in Lansing. A student nominated Lacey because the teacher had a big impact on the student's life. Lacey also coaches the Academic Games at the Detroit middle school, and his teams consistently win regional and statewide competitions. A car buff, Lacey also teaches a spring elective on automotive repair. "He really has a wonderful way of connecting with his students, and his students enjoy his energy and sense of fun," said Terry Young, the school transformation facilitator at Clippert. Dot Washington, Talent Development's math instructional facilitator, has collaborated with Lacey for three years. "He has high expectations for all of his students and has great relationships with them as well," said Washington. "He is always willing to try different instructional strategies to improve the academic success of his students." Michigan State University Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo presented the award. Lacey won $500, and his class also won $500. The Michigan Lottery selects a teacher every week, and each becomes eligible for the "Educator of the Year Award" for a grand prize of $10,000. 



Educators Gather to Learn about Early Warning Systems


More than 150 educators and community leaders, many from the mid-Atlantic area, attended the first Early Warning Systems summit in Baltimore in mid-November. Held on the Johns Hopkins University campus, the conference, "Making Good on the Promise of College Readiness for All," addressed the role of early warning indicators in keeping all students on the path to college and career training. Talent Development Secondary manager Johann Liljengren and Diplomas Now-Philadelphia school transformation facilitator Dana Twyman presented a session on early-warning system basics with Dana providing real-life success stories. Bob Balfanz gave the opening keynote, and Daniel Leland, former school transformation facilitator at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C., co-presented with Balfanz on multi-tiered interventions. The George W. Bush Institute, with Hopkins' Everyone Graduates Center and the Meadows Center at the University of Texas-Austin sponsored the conference. The second day focused on middle grades instruction.



Diplomas Now in the News!



The Seattle Times Update on Aki Kurose and Denny International Middle Schools: Where are they now? Updates on Education Lab's past stories 


CBS's Focus on South Florida Highlights Diplomas Now: Focus on South Florida: Dropout Prevention






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