America’s Promise Alliance is a premier organization supporting education, family and community engagement that is concerned every 26 seconds a high school student drops out! With former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and his wife, Alma Powell, the services offered can not go unnoticed. Hundreds attended this event and millions of others were engaged through online outreach and media coverage. John S. Gomperts was also announced as the new President and CEO, succeeding Marguerite Kondracke at their Grad Nation Summit in Washington,DC.
This was an extraordinary event that I was blessed to attend with a fellow Grad Nation Community supporter from Northeast Kentucky, Marcia Salisbury, a counselor at Boyd County High School. We were sponsored via United Communities to Advance our Neighborhoods, Inc. (UCAN) non-profit organization to attend.
Selected youth attended Pre-Summit sessions and designed posters within groups that reflected their views. I was able to speak with some of the youth while viewing some of the insightful and creative posters they designed.
The summit included such topics as: Using Data to Drive Decisions in Different Models for Raising Student Achievement, Setting Them Up for Success: Creating a Solid Foundation for Post-Secondary Readiness and other hot topics facing Education Reform in America!
I attended a very informative session with Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawaii during breakfast. The purpose was to brief advocates on legislation that we could request support for as we met with our legislators. Afterwards, our groups went to Capitol Hill to meet with our legislators. I met with Kentucky legislator, Rep. Geoff Davis, and staffers from Senators McConnell and Paul’s offices (as these senators were not available, although we sought appointments in advance).
America’s Promise also provides many toolkits and resources. This year it unveiled its Parent Engagement Toolkit with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This helps to provide parents and community leaders with information and tools to help to prevent students from dropping out. It includes focus on the 4A’s – Attendance, Attainment, Achievement and Advocacy.
America’s Promise accepts the challenge to increase the youth’s chances of experiencing these five promises: “Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others.”
We must change the course of direction for the 1.3 million students choosing not to continue in high school annually! Studies show that students who drop out are more likely to indulge in drugs, crime and the penal system. We must end the school to prison pipeline that exist in too many of our communities. There is a role for each of us to play in this mandatory change and there are resources available to empower us as we accept that challenge and that urgent Call to Action!