Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner


March 2015


This year, the first three high schools that have had Diplomas Now for the past four years will graduate students - some of whom would not have made it to graduation without Diplomas Now. After four years, both the students and the schools have been positively changed. Here are three success stories:



After Four Years with Diplomas Now, a Formerly Troubled Student Will Graduate


Four years ago, Stevaughn Dowdy was a tall - almost 5'11'' - quiet, withdrawn freshman at The English High School in Boston. His mother had died unexpectedly, and he had to move in with his aunt. His charismatic cousin was pressing Stevaughn to join his powerful gang. Under extreme stress, Stevaughn responded by punching and breaking school windows, cutting class, and refusing to respond to adults' questions. His report card had an F, three Cs and two Bs. He missed eight days of school and was late 22 times that year. Today, as a senior, Stevaughn is still tall but he is captain of The English's varsity football and basketball teams, has near perfect attendance, excellent behavior and had two Bs and five As, including an A+ on his report card. He is applying to four-year colleges. Read more





Fights and Anger Replaced by a Big Scholarship and Even Bigger Goals


When Moises Arzu was a high school freshman, he got into a fight with his basketball coach and stormed off the court-in the middle of a game. This year, instead of walking off the court, Moises plans to stride purposefully across the stage at Booker T. Washington High School's graduation ceremony in Miami. The former regular at after-school detention today is the proud recipient of a Florida Bright Futures college scholarship worth $100,000, awarded for outstanding academic performance. Read more.



Queens Student Overcomes Major Family Health Challenge with Academic Triumph


Ashley Rodriguez worried her father would never see her graduate from high school. In eighth grade, she learned he had cancer, and over the next few months, her father's health quickly deteriorated as he underwent radiation treatments. Ashley put on a brave face at school, but her sleepless nights took a toll. When she entered Newtown High School in Queens five months after his diagnosis, Ashley was motivated to make something positive out of a negative situation. Diplomas Now helped her do just that. Read more.




Diplomas Now Summer Institute to be Held in the Center of Cool: Tulsa, Birthplace of Route 66, Deco Masterpieces and Western Swing 


Diplomas Now Summer Institute is taking the show on the road to Tulsa, one of our newest partners, on July 7-8. This year's institute will feature a special track of sessions for funders, and already several funders have said they will attend:  Stacy Schusterman of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Steven Dow of Community Action Project, Ken Levit and Josh Miller of George Kaiser Family Foundation, Alex Belous of the Cisco Foundation and Partheev Shah and Chuck Harris of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. Local dignitaries likely to attend include the head of the United Way of Tulsa, district superintendent Deborah Gist, the state superintendent of education and state legislators. The special events for funders will include a welcome reception, a breakfast, a talk by Bob Balfanz about Diplomas Now, and an update from MDRC about the evaluation findings. These funders also will be invited to the special closing awards luncheon. Stay tuned for more details about DNSI.



Education Secretary Visits Cardozo Education Campus 


In an effort to highlight the importance of innovation and the federal funding to support it, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan chose to tour Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C., in early February and highlighted Diplomas Now as an example of innovation. Duncan was trying to ensure that the Investing in Innovation (i3) program is continued under the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Read the Department of Ed blog about it.



Bob Balfanz Argues for Innovation before Senate Panel


In early February, Dr. Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor & Pensions at a hearing on "Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students." He cited Diplomas Now as an example of the kind of innovation needed to keep students on track to graduate. Read his full testimony. View a video of the hearing.



City Year to Hold National Leadership Summit in D.C. in April 


City Year will hold its 2015 In School & On Track National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on April 29 and 30. This year's Summit features a powerful lineup of speakers including Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation; Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation; Dr. Barbara M. Jenkins, superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Orlando; David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast Corporation; Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and Michael Ward, Chairman, president and CEO of CSX. During one session, representatives from MDRC will share findings from the first two reports from the randomized control study about Diplomas Now.


Each year, the Summit draws hundreds of City Year stakeholders and champions from the education, business, philanthropy and national service fields to share ideas, tools and resources that advance City Year's goal to address the nation's high school graduation challenge and help turn around low-performing schools by tapping the power of national service.



A New Focus on Juniors and Seniors in Diplomas Now High Schools


Diplomas Now is launching a strong focus to support high schools in their efforts to ensure all upperclassmen are on track to graduate. Part of the power of Diplomas Now is the ability to quickly mobilize to identify and address issues in schools and with students. In supporting juniors and seniors at-risk of not graduating, Diplomas Now will deploy resources and staffers to work with these students individually. Diplomas Now teams will look not only at attendance, behavior and course performance for junior and seniors, but also missing classes and credits that can derail students. School transformation facilitators, with support from the entire Diplomas Now team, school administration, and upper-grade staff, will assess current school initiatives that support graduation and credit recovery. The Diplomas Now team and administration then will determine how much additional support is needed. But the intent is that each struggling student will be matched with an adult who regularly checks in with that student.



Congrats to Our Latest Attendance Winners!


Here are the high school and middle school with the highest attendance rate for the first quarter: 


Clinton Middle School in Los Angeles 

Newtown High School in New York  


Here are the winners for the most improved attendance from first quarter last year:


Noble Middle School in Detroit 

John Hope College Prep in Chicago


Keep up the great work!



Gage Park High School Engages in Community Service for MLK Day!


Gage Park, a Diplomas Now high school in Chicago, performed numerous service projects in honor of Martin Luther King Day in January, including constructing benches, organizing school inventory, and painting murals. Check out the photos. 




We Need You to Vote for the Diplomas Now Video in a Contest!


Please vote for the Diplomas Now video in this national corporate citizenship video contest. Scroll down on this link to find it under PepsiCo Foundation. Spread the word so the Diplomas Now video is selected as one of the top 10 corporate citizenship videos!



Diplomas Now in the News!


The Detroit Free Press published this  op-ed by Bob Balfanz and Nick Stamos of Talent Development Secondary

Washington Post Covered Secretary Duncan's visit to Cardozo Education Campus


Education Week Also Highlighted the Duncan visit in this  story

Dan Cardinali of Communities In Schools mentioned Diplomas Now in East Baton Rouge Advocate op-ed 

The Tulsa World featured City Year Tulsa on MLK Day in this  story







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