Whatever It Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youths

Sarah Kim

Nancy Martin and Samuel Halperin
American Youth Policy Forum
2006

Every nine seconds in America, a student becomes a dropout, and only about two-thirds of all students entering 9th grade graduate four years later. Whatever It Takes asks two questions: What can be done to recover and reconnect those young people most at risk of dropping out, and what is being done to reengage out-of-school youth? The report profiles twelve community case studies and six major national programs, and it demonstrates they've gained traction in youth dropout recovery. Through a mixture of promoting community service, "real-world, career-oriented curricula," and multiple schooling options (among other approaches), some communities have achieved notable successes. At the Sinclair Fast Forward Center in Fordham's hometown of Dayton, Ohio, counselors can refer youngsters to dropout recovery charter schools or other employment programs. Baltimore, Maryland, established a network of vocational-type high schools with partnerships with the private sector. There is no one-size-fits-all model here, nor is there one, definite answer to the dropout problem. These case studies work well as a "practical resource" of how certain tailor-made programs have produced demonstrable successes on the ground. It's notable that charter schools-largely immune to the bureaucratic bulkiness of traditional public schools-are popular among nonprofit organizations, which can use charters to enroll out-of-school youth. The report also evaluates and gives good information about national programs, such as Job Corps, which enroll a large portion of the nation's out-of-school youth. Thanks to burgeoning media coverage, more Americans are becoming aware of the dropout problem in their communities. And this report shares some of the institutions and ideas which combat that problem successfully. Check it out here.

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