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High School Graduation Rates Are Improving

By Samuel Sinyangwe

A new report from America’s Promise Alliance, Building a Grad Nation, finds U.S. high school graduation rates are on the rise, and for the first time are on track to hit 90% by 2020!

These gains are more equitable, too: the report finds that while graduation rates are improving for all students, Latino and African American students are making the biggest improvements. Between 2006 and 2010, graduation rates among Latino students rose 10.4 percent and African American rates increased by 6.9 percent, compared to a 2.7 percent improvement among white students.

Students are also attending better schools. Compared to 2002, African American and Latino students today are only half as likely to attend high school “drop-out factories” where less than 60% of students persist to 12th grade.

While this is great news, there is much work to be done. We must accelerate the current progress if we are to break down the remaining barriers to success facing African American and Latino students. We must also continue to work to make sure that all students earn a college degree to ensure that they are successful in the 21st century economy—we no longer live in a society in which a high school degree is sufficient to garner a high-paying job.

Promise Neighborhoods are rising to the challenge by creating communities of opportunity where high school graduation is the norm rather than the exception. An excellent article in the Huffington Post announces the findings of the new report and lifts up Self-Enhancement, Inc., a lead organization of a Promise Neighborhood and member of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink community of practice, as a model organization for raising graduation rates.

Keep up the great work, Promise Neighborhoods!



My Inspiration for Graduates: Jeremy Lin

Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink Director Michael McAfee had a few words of inspiration for graduates in the Huffington Post:

Need Inspiration for Your Graduate? Start With the Time 100 List

We all need a little graduation inspiration, especially when it can feel like we’re sending our graduates off on ice floes. So let me share my inspiration: the Time100 list.

Jeremy Lin made the list this year, and from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s comments about him, it’s clear that Mr. Duncan and I see the same spark. It’s not just Lin’s moves on the court that inspire us; it’s what he represents.

“I don’t care whether you are an Asian-American kid, white, black, or Hispanic,” Duncan wrote inTime, “Jeremy’s story tells you that if you show grit, discipline and integrity, you too can get an opportunity to overcome the odds.”

Duncan should know about opportunity. The US Department of Education is entering its third year of the Promise Neighborhoods program, which uses the principles of the successful Harlem Children’s Zone to provide comprehensive community supports to allow children of all races and income levels to learn, grow, and succeed. Jeremy Lin’s story shows us that when children get the opportunity to reach their full potential, the results can be spectacular.

Read the full article at the Huffington Post.

HuffPo: No Whack-a-Moles Here!

Morna Murray’s article in the Huffington Post yesterday takes a hard look at our culture’s, well, soft look at poverty. Or, rather, inability to look straight at it. Ms. Murray, of First Focus, says:

“Can it be that poverty is simply not “sexy” enough to capture the attention of the American public? Go visit an impoverished community and see what you think. See if you think the children and families there can withstand a cut in food stamps or health care or child care or preschool funding or teachers. See if you think a piecemeal program here or there will truly change the lives of children. Is the issue not “sexy” enough for you?”

Morna Murray, Huffington Post: “Is Poverty not “Sexy” Enough?”

Are there any bright spots? You bet there is! The Harlem Children’s Zone, of course, and Promise Neighborhoods, which take away the traditional whack-a-mole approach to ending poverty by addressing all issues at once, in a coordinated, strategic manner.

She does, however, make the point that not enough Promise Neighborhoods are funded, and those that have funding need more resources to really make a difference.

We couldn’t agree more!

Angela Glover Blackwell Talks Promise Neighborhoods on HuffPo!

A Huffington Post piece by PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell today thanks government leaders for their investment in–what else?–Promise Neighborhoods!

Angela Glover Blackwell

Blackwell writes:

“Every community has islands of excellence and people working hard to make a better life for their children. With long-term commitment from the federal government, and public and private engagement, we can widen these islands of excellence into a nation of opportunity and achievement.”

How true!

And we join her in thanking Congress for approving the $30 million allocation for Promise Neighborhoods this year, and the Department of Education for their thoughtful, comprehensive grant guidelines that will help build Promise Neighborhoods into a movement.

Promise Neighborhoods Help Break Through the Opportunity Ceiling!

PolicyLink founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell has a GREAT piece in the Huffington Post today describing some of the challenges facing young people of color, and some great ways to give them the chance to succeed.

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder, PolicyLink

This map shows the change in demographics over time, and emphasizes the need to continue programs like Promise Neighborhoods–because if we don’t, our children will be left in the lurch.

America’s Tomorrow from PolicyLink on Vimeo.

Promise Neighborhoods Improve Your Health!

It’s not just about education, as the Huffington Post published yesterday in “Eliminate the ‘Health Gap,’” by James R. Knickman. This article, re-posted all over the internet, shows how Promise Neighborhoods are the solution to “reducing disparities in health.” Knickman knows what he’s talking about: he’s the president & CEO of the New York State Health Foundation, and he sits on the board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a generous supporter of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute.

Promise Neighborhoods work, Knickman says, because

“issues related to education, housing, and health are linked inextricably. Children need to be healthy if they are going to succeed in school and in life. Families need to have safe places to live, to be able to pay for their medications, to have access to affordable healthy foods, to have their basic human needs met if they are going to be healthy.”

We couldn’t have said it better! Re-post this article yourself and get the word out that Promise Neighborhoods are about more than education reform; they work to improve all areas of a child’s life and, in doing so, take the necessary steps to break the cycle of generational poverty.