ATLANTA, GA (August 5, 2014) - Thousands of youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) concluded the 2013 - 2014 academic school year successfully with the help of supporters like AT&T, which provided more than $1.7 million to Clubs across the country. With funding from AT&T, BGCA expanded its dropout prevention program BE GREAT: Graduate to increase high school success and readiness by adding a 9th grade cohort. The pilot cohorts just completed their first year, helping 250 9th graders across the country successfully transition into high school. In the 2014-15 school year, AT&T also will host mentoring events for BGCA students.
BE GREAT: Graduate is designed to enhance each student's engagement with learning by providing consistent support from caring and trusted adults in developing the academic, emotional and social skills needed to achieve academic success. The program uses early warning signs - including attendance, behavior and course failure -- to identify youth at risk for dropping out, and increases their engagement at Clubs.
"No matter their background, we want students to have access to the resources that will lead them to graduate from high school," said Nicole Anderson, Executive Director of Philanthropy at AT&T. "We are thrilled that we can not only support BGCA through funding, but also with our most valuable resource – AT&T employees."
The 9th grade cohort program piloted at the following 10 Boys & Girls Clubs: East Valley (Tempe, Ariz.), King County (Seattle, Wash.), Santa Ana (Calif.), Greater Fort Worth (Texas), St. Louis (Mo.), Union League (Chicago, Ill.), West End House (Boston, Mass.), Fresno County (Ca.), Central Arkansas (Little Rock, Ark.), and Virginia Peninsula (Newport News, Va.). During the school year, these clubs engaged 250 9th graders in cohort style mentorship, intentionally tracking progress of course performance and attendance; developing competencies and skills related to problem-based learning and expanding their college and career readiness.
The positive impact of the 9th grade cohort program is seen in Club youth like Aneytra, a 9th grader from the West End House Boys & Girls Club in Boston, who was not attending school regularly and had failed several courses while in middle school. She came to the Club frequently, but needed the one-on-one support that a staff mentor provided through BE GREAT: Graduate to help maximize her potential. Through constant support and guidance, Aneytra and her mentor worked together to set goals that they could reach together, from attending school every day to finding a quiet place for homework to talking through some issues with her peers, etc. Additionally, the camaraderie provided by the 9th grade cohort provided a positive peer group for Aneytra. Aneytra made tremendous strides academically because of her participation in the 9th grade cohort, and has made the honor roll this year and is attending school regularly.
"My mentor is there for me when things are going well, but more importantly, when things fall apart," said Aneytra. "Even when I wasn't going to school much, no one gave up on me, and they encouraged me to get back into the routine of coming to the West End House regularly."
In the 2014-15 school year, AT&T's funding will provide opportunities for students to work with AT&T employee mentors through the company's Aspire Mentoring Academy program. More than 2,400 Club youth will benefit from the Aspire Mentoring Academy in 2014 at over 60 mentoring events occurring at 15 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. AT&T employees will offer their expertise about everything from interview skills to mobile app development.
For more information about AT&T Aspire, the company's signature education initiative focused on school success and workforce readiness, please visit www.att.com/aspire.
For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of America's work with AT&T, please visit www.bgca.org
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.
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