DICIANO: United Way aiming for higher rates of graduation

June 29, 2013 

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

— William Butler Yeats

How do we help students light a fire for knowledge and not simply fill the pail?

Finding that special motivation to learn, helping students understand what and why they are learning, finding that spark of interest; these are all ways to light a fire for knowledge — knowledge that will create long-lasting benefits.

United Way of Stanislaus County is pleased to announce a partnership with the Center for Human Services to help seventh-grade students "light that fire" to ensure our students will attain their high school diploma — which is critical to self-sufficiency, economic growth, employment, human capital and personal health.

In March 2011, the Alliance for Excellent Education reported, "In California, an estimated 199,400 students dropped out from the Class of 2010 at great costs to themselves and to their communities. Cutting that number of dropouts in half for this single high school class could result in tremendous economic benefits to the state."

If 99,700 of these dropouts graduated, the following would result in one year:

• $1.4 billion in increased earnings

• $1 billion in increased spending

• $4.5 billion in increased home sales

• 8,700 new jobs and $1.9 billion in economic growth

The United Way of Stanislaus County, with an expertise in fund-raising, and the Center for Human Services, with an expertise in youth development programs, will create a powerful partnership for change.

This $200,000 project, which will establish graduation coaches at three middle schools, will guide our youth on a successful path to graduation through mentoring, student and parent engagement and support services.

Coaches will work closely with identified at-risk students and connect them with services to promote skill building, academic support, emotional health and a variety of other services to engage students in learning.

Results will be measured, tracked and reported to the community.

For many years the United Way has focused on programs that support education, income and health issues in our communities. The Graduation Coach project will be implemented in 2013-14 and is the first of three initiatives that United Way will establish over the next three years.

Like the Graduation Coach project, the health and income initiatives will be determined through local research and community input. The health initiative will be implemented in 2014-15, and the income initiative will be established in 2015-16.

At that time all three initiatives will be operating simultaneously. These initiatives will affect pressing local issues in a collaborative and focused method. This more focused and proactive approach will allow the dollars we receive to have a greater impact with long term results.

We are very excited about this opportunity to strengthen our community and help our youth succeed.

The United Way will continue to work with nonprofits and programs that meet basic needs in our county through our 21 partner agencies. It has always been and will continue to be our mission to support programs, agencies and efforts that will improve and strengthen this community that we call home.

DiCiano is president and CEO of the United Way of Stanislaus County.

Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service