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Source: Press-Register
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Dropout prevention is not only a school district problem; it's a COMMUNITY problem that requires the response of the WHOLE community.
 February 2014 eNewsletter



Welcome to the February issue of the Mobile Area Education Foundation e-newsletter. Mobile County public schools announced last month that the overall graduation rate had improved to 75%. This issue of MAEF's e-newsletter will look deeper into MAEF's role in helping to move the graduation rate in the right direction. 



MAEF Plays Key Role in Graduation Rate Increase

For the past two years the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) has publically announced their goal of improving the graduation rate amongst its schools. Simultaneously at MAEF we have been working as well to assist MCPSS in their quest to improve the graduation rate. At MAEF, the Graduate Ready initiative is leading the way for MCPSS and we have set the tone for reaching a goal of at least 80 percent of all Mobile County public school students graduating on time and ready for college and career by 2020. The Evening Education Options Program (EEOP) that began in 2009 has been ahead of the curve in providing an alternative pathway for students to reach graduation. 


EEOP is available to students at all 12 high schools and is very important to ensuring that all students are given a chance to succeed.


"There is no other option for students who are that far behind to catch up and be able to graduate on time with their home school, as well as receive the preparation that prepares them to be college and career ready upon graduation," EEOP director Terrance Smith said. 


Without MAEF developing a program like EEOP Smith believes the graduation rate wouldn't be moving in the right direction. MAEF has given students an opportunity to become re-engaged with the learning process, while also showing them that graduation is possible.


Because of this program the graduation rate in Mobile County is on an upswing. It is one of the many reasons why success is happening in Mobile.


Smith adds, "I believe EEOP is directly connected to the recent rise in the MCPSS graduation rate. These students are able to return to their home schools, all 12 high schools, which adds to the graduation rate. So the students who would not have been counted in the graduation rate for other purposes are now able to return to their home schools and walk with their graduating class. Some of them are recovering from needing as many as 14 credits."


A common misconception is that the students in EEOP are troublemakers or are there because they can't handle a regular high school setting.


"You have students who are here due to illnesses, some students here due to having taken on adult responsibilities, other students who have fallen behind due to lack of interest in school, and a very few students who have come to EEOP due to a lack of knowing the material," said Smith.


Students are recommended to EEOP for a number of reasons, and most students get back on the right track quickly.


"It's easy to learn here," said Kendall Giddens. "In regular school they don't give you the individual help. Here they actually come help you when you need it. It's faster and you can get your credits faster," the senior from Davidson added.


In addition to being able to get back on track and catch up, EEOP students are given the opportunity to participate in a 10-week internship with an area business in an industry of their choice. According to the students, the internship process is what they most look forward to other than getting their diploma. They've realized that they have a unique opportunity that wouldn't be available to them in the normal high school setting.


"I think the internship is a good opportunity for us. I think I have an advantage over students who are in regular school," MGM senior Rebekka Merrell said. "If I were still in school at MGM, internships would be offered but they wouldn't come to students individually or provide the support that I get at EEOP."


No matter what area of interest the students want to explore, the EEOP staff prepares them for what it will be like after graduation. In addition to providing an avenue to earn credits, each student learns the soft skills needed to obtain employment or get into college.


"Getting to do an internship before school will really help me see if working in a hospital is really what I want to do," Brianna Frazier said. "It is giving me the opportunity now, so I can know what I want to do when I actually get out of high school," the senior from Davidson added.


EEOP is here in Mobile because MAEF recognized there were students who were at-risk of dropping out because the traditional school setting did not work for them. Now over 600 students have received a high school diploma, and we can all see how the program is a success.


"I was considering dropping out before I found out about EEOP," Jalen Bell said. "I didn't like going to school, so I didn't go if I didn't want to. Now that I'm in EEOP I am able to work at my own pace, I have the support of an Advocate Counselor, and I am on track to graduate with my class this year."


The Mobile County public school graduation rate has risen to 75 percent in the past two years, and we at MAEF are continuing to do our part in providing all students an opportunity to be successful and obtain a high school diploma.

A New Easy Way to Get Involved 


As we continue to work towards the goal of having at least 80 percent of Mobile County public school students graduating college and career ready, community involvement is key. Whether you can donate time, money, or both, community support and engagement is what MAEF needs. It takes all of us working together to combat the dropout problem, and to improve public education in Mobile County. With the help of the fundraising website, community members now have a trusted hassle-free way to donate to MAEF. By using this online tool people can get involved easily, and help support the movement. Visit  to donate and help MAEF continue to do the work needed to improve Mobile County public schools. 




 United Way partners with MAEF

MAEF is now a partner with the United Way of Southwest Alabama beginning in January 2014. As their campaign is in full swing, where rallies are being hosted and pledges are being made, we ask that you remember MAEF and the work we are doing in our public schools. As we continue to strive for excellence through the Graduate Ready Initiative and are committed to preparing every student for college, career, and life, show your support by designating your pledge to MAEF.


United Way has set education as one of its four building blocks. We know that education is central to the health of the community. And we know that education is tied to financial security. We all want the public schools to be good. It benefits the quality of life for all of us. Even if you don't have kids in school-or in school in Mobile-there's a huge economic impact to graduating more kids that benefits us all.


That's the main reason we are here. And that's what MAEF's Graduate Ready Initiative is all about.


On the front of your pledge card, please enter Designation Code 189 and contribute at least $10 per pay period. Show your commitment to the quality of life in Mobile County for your children and grandchildren.
What to do?
Progress is being made, but there is much work to be done and we need YOU! The Mobile Area Education Foundation provides various volunteer opportunities to fit any schedule.


CLICK HERE or call today to make a difference in a child's academic journey and ensure they Graduate Ready!


Mobile Area Education Foundation

Office: 251.476.0002  |

The Mobile Area Education Foundation is a non-profit, local education foundation dedicated to creating higher expectations for our public schools and our community.