Let's start with the good news. The U.S. high school graduation rate is at an all time high at 82.3%. But GradNation, an America's Promise campaign, thinks we can do even better. A coalition of educational organizations, their goal is to increase graduation rates to 90% by 2020. Not only will this benefit students and their communities, but the country as a whole. According to them, reaching this goal for just one graduating year would create more than 65,000 new jobs and increase gross domestic product by over $11 billion. To make this a reality they are offering the GradNation Acceleration Grant to support replicable, evidence-based programs that help high-risk students stay in school.
Why the Stakes Are So High
- The lifetime earnings of those with high school degrees and beyond are estimated to be between 50 and 100 times higher than a nongraduate.
- Although a causal relationship has not been established, incarceration rates for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who failed to complete their high school degrees were 63 times higher than college graduates.
- According to a study by Columbia University those that do not have their high school diplomas receive $9,660 more in public assistance over their lives than those who do.
- As a group, those who leave high school early are less healthy, with shorter life expectancies than those who continue their education. Starting at early ages, the former have more frequent use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Education encourages civic participation. A 2012 study found that only 4% of early school exiters vote, compared to 24% with a high school diploma and 37% with a college degree.
The GradNation Acceleration Grant
This award will fund proposals from two state organizations up to $125,000 per year for a two year period and three community organizations up to $50,000 a year for a two year period. It supports programs that relate to at least one of the following six components in the GradNation Action Platform:
- High Quality Data - use data-driven approaches to identify struggling students, inform interventions and monitor progress.
- Non-Academic Factors - address out-of-school circumstances that influence academic achievement and put students at risk.
- School Climates - improve school environments by promoting an atmosphere of caring and connection through inclusive disciplinary practices.
- Caring Adult Relationships - increase the quality and quantity of caring role-models in the students lives.
- Youth Reengagement - reengage former pupils who have already left with options for completing high school prepared for success after graduation.
- Pathways - connect the high school experience with opportunities for education, workforce readiness and life success.
In addition, the funder is especially interested in projects that demonstrate:
- An understanding of school and community level graduation rates and related data.
- Collaboration between high schools and school districts.
- A commitment to students who are demographically most at risk.
GradNation has identified 10 priority states they accept applications from: CA, CO, FL, GA, MI, NC, NM, OR, PA, and WA. Eligible entities are state and local governments, schools and school districts, nonprofits, and consortia. Apply by November 8, 2017.
Even if you are not located in one of the 10 priority states, GradNation may still have something for you:
Downloadable Resources - Reports, webinars, and other assets that address the challenges at risk students face and best practices on how to mitigate them.
Current Funding Opportunities - America's Promise Alliance maintains a page with grants from external organizations that align with their vision of education. Many have rolling deadlines.