Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Drop outs give reasons for quitting school.

"Fewer students would drop out of high school if they took classes they found relevant, had help developing career goals and had strong relationships with adults they see as role models, according to a poll of 500 young adults in Michigan. The solution lies inside schools and communities." This is a quote from an article in the 5/30/08 Detroit Free Press.

This is one of several articles on the high school drop out crisis that are included in the July 2008 eNewsletter published by the UCLA Center on Mental Health in Schools. Find the entire newsletter on the UCLA site.

If connecting youth with adult mentors and role models is a solution, then the next step is building the marketing and infrastructure to make such programs available to more youth in high drop out neighborhoods. That's the focus of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

School will be starting again in September, but between now and then there are actions that businesses, hospitals, professional groups, colleges and civic/social groups can be taking to help provide more mentoring opportunities.

a) Build a communications program, starting in August, that encourages members of your business or community to seek out existing programs where you can volunteer time as a tutor/mentor, talent as an organizer, web builder, accountant or marketer, and/or dollars to cover the operating expenses of these programs.

b) If you are in Chicago, and operate a tutor/mentor program, make sure you are included in the Program Links and Program Locator on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site. Make sure you have staff in place and information on your web site, so that when a volunteer contacts you, he/she is provided with information that will lead them to support your organization.

c) If you are not in Chicago, work with local agencies to create a "hub" like the T/MC, listing all of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in your community. This is essential if your community is to have good programs in every neighborhood.

d) If you lead a business or civic organization, read the ROLE OF LEADERS and integrate this thinking into your own communications.

These are just a few ideas that you can find in the various sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site. If you form a learning strategy, and spend time each week learning from this library, you can begin to be more strategic in what you and your community are doing to help young people get more of the supports needed to prevent them from becoming the next wave of drop outs.

What we do in July and August, can have a huge impact on the supports available to k-12 youth from September through next June.

Let's not wait for the election or a new president. This is a responsibility each of us can take.

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