Colorado Graduates Initiative
The Colorado Graduates Initiative (CGI) is an effort to accelerate action toward the goal of reducing the state's dropout rate in half over the next ten years. Colorado has a recognized problem getting all young people to succeed in high school and community, state leaders, school leaders and the public are beginning to commit to ensuring that more students graduate from high school, that fewer students dropout, and that all young people get an education that prepares them for future success.
Launched by the Donnell-Kay Foundation, the CGI includes leaders from several Colorado school districts, direct-service organizations working with at-risk youth, advocacy organizations, researchers, and leaders in philanthropy who recognize the urgent need for action to address these challenges. The Initiative is being coordinated by the Colorado Children's Campaign, working in partnership with the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, Colorado Youth for a Change, school districts, the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, led by Robert Balfanz and Martha MacIver, as well as other governmental, business, and community partners.
Because of this commitment, Colorado has a unique opportunity to approach this problem differently. Stakeholders are realizing that piecemeal dropout prevention and recovery programs are largely ineffective. This has resulted in a desire for a state effort that empowers and drives schools and communities to develop and implement their own coherent and integrated reform strategies, rather than a hodge-podge of programs to manage. Partnering with districts willing to implement such strategies, combined with increased public and political will to address this problem, creates an opportunity a for bold, agile, resourced, and committed effort to make a real and lasting impact on Colorado's current and future students.
Johns Hopkins University has been working with several Colorado school districts with a focus on identifying behavioral warning signs of dropping out. The findings point to the importance of early intervention (6th grade) as well as reducing 9th grade course failures as a way to keep students on the path to graduation. A series of integrated, systemic preventions, including "early warning" systems were recommended. An aggregate report on each of the five districts' (Adams 12, Aurora, Denver, Jeffco, and Pueblo) will be released later this summer and will be available on this website.
This Initiative includes action to improve policies and practices at both the local and state levels. The group also recognizes the need to pursue both short- and long-term activities. Short-term efforts seek to take advantage of the other initiatives that are already underway that can be strengthened by input from actors committed to better serving potential dropouts. Long-term efforts require a significant degree of study and analysis with various partners to provide a deeper understanding of the challenges and to thoughtfully develop systemic solutions. A detailed work plan is available upon request.
For more information about the CGI, please contact Colorado Children's Campaign 303-620-4544. Or check out their website: http://www.coloradograduates.org/
HIGH QUALITY ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS FOR DENVER'S STUDENTS
In May 2009, the Donnell-Kay Foundation reported preliminary findings from a analysis on the state of alternative education in the Denver Public Schools. The findings point to serious gaps in the mix, quality, and supply of alternative options for high school students off-track for graduation or who have already dropped out. View the PowerPoint here.