Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Winner

June 2017

Happy Summer From Diplomas Now!
As another school year comes to a close, we want to thank all the Diplomas Now teams, teachers and leaders at our partner schools for a job well done this year. Your dedication, energy and passion for ensuring students graduate has helped them stay on track to finish high school. Your commitment has truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of students. Thank you for all your hard work and for going above and beyond. 

Kellie Hinkle
Interim Director, Diplomas Now

Bob Balfanz
Co-founder, Diplomas Now

Charles Hiteshew 
CEO, Talent Development Secondary

          Dale Erquiaga
          President, Communities In Schools
        Jim Balfanz
    President, City Year
Webster High School's Dramatically Higher Graduation Rate Earns Surprise Concert

Platinum recording artists The Chainsmokers crashed senior day at Tulsa's Webster High School  to recognize the staff and students for their extraordinary increases in graduation and college-going rates. At an all-school assembly, The Chainsmokers spoke about the power that comes from doing extraordinary things. They even gave every senior a ticket to their concert in Tulsa. Read more here

The surprise reward was orchestrated by Get Schooled, a national education nonprofit that partnered with Diplomas Now this year to launch The  Graduation Challenge, a fun and friendly competition designed to increase graduation rates and inspire seniors to finish off the school year strong.

In September 2016, the Webster team made a huge attendance push, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and using social media to find "no-show" students and get them back in school.

Staff and students at Webster, which has partnered with Diplomas Now since 2013, have worked together to dramatically improve the school's graduation rate, which has jumped from 53.3 percent to 75.5 percent since 2013. Webster's class of 2017 also has increased college-acceptance rates by 33 percentage points over the prior year.

"The Webster community has raised the bar for excellence, and we are incredibly proud of the gains our students have made in the last year," said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah A. Gist said. "Every one of these graduates will have expanded opportunities for personal and professional success - receiving a high school diploma is a truly life-changing accomplishment."

The event was covered by the Tulsa World , News on 6 and dance music outlets, EDM Sauce and Your EDM .
New Grad Nation Report Finds Nation Off-Track Toward Reaching 90 Percent Graduation Goal

The new 2017 Building a Grad Nation report finds that even with the current national graduation rate at 83.2 percent, it's unlikely that the nation will meet its high school graduation rate goal without intensifying efforts to reach the students who have faced the greatest challenges. The country remains off-pace to reaching its goal for the second year in a row. The report notes that only half of America's states are on track to reach a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

The report was released this month by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, in partnership with America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The four organizations lead the GradNation campaign, a nationwide effort to boost on-time high school graduation rates to 90 percent by the Class of 2020. The 2017 report is presented by lead sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsor State Farm.

"National high school graduation rates increased four percentage points from 2010 to 2015. That's more than just a data point - it means hundreds of thousands more young people are in a better position for post-secondary enrollment. These increases, reflected across all states and student subgroups during that five-year period, are a profound achievement for our nation," said Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and co-author of the report. "Now, as we move into the last leg of the campaign, we must double our progress if we are to meet our goal. This report offers a blueprint for how to get there."

Learn more here.
CIS Celebrates 40 Years of Helping Students Stay in School

With a big gala, the One World Trade Center spire lit in blue and the ringing of the opening bells at the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, Diplomas Now partner Communities In Schools is celebrating 40 years of connecting students with community resources they need to stay in school. Whether it's clean clothes, school supplies, help with school work or emotional support to overcome trauma, the school-based CIS staff does whatever it takes to empower students on their path to graduation.

"One of the founding principles of Communities In Schools is to help students complete school with the tools and resources they need to be successful after graduation," said CIS CEO Dale Erquiaga. "As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we are reminded that there is more work to be done to break the cycle of poverty and empower more students to create better lives, better communities and a better world."