Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner

February 2016

Three Diplomas Now Schools to Participate in President Obama's My Brother's Keeper School Success Mentor Initiative

Three Diplomas Now schools will be part of a new national pilot project to improve school attendance launched last week by the White House. 
The My Brother's Keeper School Success Mentor Initiative is the nation's first-ever effort to use an evidence-based mentor model to support our highes t risk students. It will tap caring adults already in schools, such as trained and supported coaches, secretaries, teachers, security guards, school staff, AmeriCorps members, tutors, and after-school providers to serve as motivators, problem solvers, connectors, and advocates .  
Diplomas Now schools Aki Kurose in Seattle, John Ericsson Middle School 126 in New York City and The English High School  in Boston will be among the pilot schools in the initiative.
The My Brother's Keeper School Success Mentor Initiative -- part of President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative -- launched on February 19 th    and initially will focus on the
key transition years, 6 th  and 9th  grades across 30 high needs school districts, with the goal of eliminating chronic absenteeism in these grades - reaching over 250,000 students in these grades alone over the next 3 years. Ten school districts joined the initiative last week: Miami, Seattle, Providence, Boston, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Columbus, Austin, NYC and Denver.  Another 20 cities will join later this spring. These cities will be part of a robust support network currently run out of the Department of Education, John Hopkins University and MENTOR supported by Attendance Works and City Year/Diplomas Now.

Another 35 districts will be given a chance to participate in the fall, reaching 1 million students at full scale. Learn more  here.

Diplomas Now principals and Bob Balfanz meet at the White House.

Planning for the initiative has been underway for several months. In December, four principals from Diplomas Now partner schools in Boston, San Antonio, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio, were invited to the White House to share how they have used early-warning systems to identify chronically a bsent students. They also detailed how they have used mentors and extra support to get those sixth- and ninth-graders back on track and improve attendance. In addition, the principal and school transformation facilitator from  South High School  in Columbus, Ohio, both  discussed the important roles school administrators play in helping to turn around Diplomas Now partner schools.

Diplomas Now is excited that the Success Mentor Initiative will replicate our core practices, such as the use of weekly data review meetings, success mentors and tutors, in schools throughout the country. These integrated supports intended to improve students' attendance, behavior, and course performance will serve as the foundation for the Success Mentor Initiative.
We are honored to share the evidence-based Diplomas Now approach and are working with our districts and communities to meet this White House challenge.
New Video on Diplomas Now Website Shows Dramatic Change at Partner Schools
Diplomas Now is pleased to present a new resource illustrating the dramatic shift in public perception that has occurred since we started working with 12 high-need schools nearly five years ago.
Narrated by Bob Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University, the video slides show media coverage of these schools before we began working with their teachers, principals and students in 2011. Many of the schools not only had a high percentage of low-performing students or were in danger of being shut down, but they also were poorly regarded in their communities. The slides also show that the coverage of these schools has been increasingly positive since we partnered with them to increase academic growth, improve attendance and consequently win awards.
Watch the video here.

Congratulations to Our Latest Attendance Winners!
A big congratulations to the middle school and high school winners for September, October and November. The attendance awards go to the high school and middle school that showed the highest attendance rate for Quarter 1, and those most improved from Quarter 1 2014 to Quarter 1 2015.

Highest Percentage for Quarter 1 2015  
  1. Clinton Middle School in Los Angeles: 94 percent 
  2. Burbank High School in San Antonio: 90 percent
Most Improved from Quarter 1 2014 to Quarter 1 2015
  1. Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School in Miami: 8 point gain
  2. South High School in Columbus: 18 point gain