Tag Archives: Education

The Franklin Initiative’s Graduation Coach Program Thanks AT&T

Bloomington Chamber’s Graduation Coach Program Receives $120,000 Aspire Contribution from AT&T
The Franklin Initiative Only Indiana Organization Among 47 Recipients Nationwide to Share in $10 Million to Help Stem the High School Dropout Crisis

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced a $120,000 grant to support the Graduation Coach Initiative, a program of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Franklin Initiative in September. The Graduation Coach Initiative provides individualized counseling and career preparation for struggling students to increase the graduation rate in Monroe County.

Because of its solid record of proven results, The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative was selected from thousands of applicants nationwide as one of 47 schools and non-profits to receive Aspire funding. Applicants were evaluated based on their accomplishments in serving students at risk of dropping out of high school and their ability to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work. This is the second grant from AT&T’s Aspire program, having received a $200,000 grant from the program in 2008.

“Since the Graduation Coach Initiative was introduced in 2007, nearly 1,000 young people have benefited from the one-on-one mentoring while hundreds, who would have otherwise dropped-out, earned their high school diploma,” said Cindy Kinnarney, Chair of the Chamber’s Franklin Initiative Advisory Council. “We applaud AT&T for their leadership in finding solutions to the high school dropout crisis. We are grateful for their generous support of a program that has far-reaching benefits.”

Graduation Coaches are social work professionals employed by The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative who work intensively with a caseload of 30-60 at-risk students with low GPA’s, low credit attainment, or poor attendance. There are three full-time Graduation Coaches – one at Bloomington High School North, Bloomington High School South, and Edgewood High School in Ellettsville – who are onsite to help students stay in school and graduate by providing focused support and removing barriers to academic success.

“Keeping our teenagers in high school and preparing them for success after graduation benefits our students and our communities,” said George Fleetwood, President of AT&T Indiana. “The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative and its Graduation Coach Program have a proven graduation strategy that is helping at-risk youth stay in school and succeed academically. We are proud to continue our support of this program.”

Since 1999, the Chamber’s Franklin Initiative (FI) has helped to facilitate career awareness while helping students develop the skills necessary to succeed in employment or in continuing education. FI programs such as the Reality Store, career fairs, and job shadowing increase student engagement through real-world connections, as well as provide the critical link between the education and business communities. Students who drop out of high school are almost twice as likely to be unemployed than high school graduates and they earn far less money. Studies also cite those that drop out are eight times as likely to be incarcerated, and far more likely to require public assistance such as housing subsidies, food stamps, and utility assistance.

“The benefits of increasing high school graduation rates are significant for our community. Thanks to AT&T’s support, we can continue the positive momentum,” added Kinnarney. After a rigorous and competitive process, The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative was identified as making a real difference in their community by supporting and motivating traditionally underserved students to stay in school, graduate and prepare for the next step in life. To learn more about all of the organizations selected, please visit www.att.com/local-impact.

Creating a Pervasive Culture of Educational Success

Today all young people need to be “college-bound.”  This could include a union apprenticeship, 2 or 4 year college degree, certificate, or anything that will improve marketability.   With so many affordable education options, financial aid, and support services, there’s no good financial excuse why every young person shouldn’t be able to do it.

Over the course of a lifetime, a 4 year college degree earns almost $1 million more than just a high school degree.  Yet only 44% of Indiana 9th graders enter college, and only 22% complete a degree within 6 years.   Our own MCCSC graduation rate is only Continue reading

Glaciers and Guidance Counselors

I recently had occasion to vacation in Glacier National Park.  Did you know that according to recent predictions, the glaciers in the park will be completely melted by 2020?  Rangers (darkly) joked with us that they’ll need a new name for the park.

But did you also know that a similar change is happening to guidance departments in public schools?  A new report just released by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center includes a startling look at what guidance counselors actually do – and don’t do – in today’s schools.  As it turns out, their traditional role has melted away just as surely and inexorably as have those pearly caps on our American Alps.  So much so, in fact, the title “guidance counselor” may no longer be appropriate.

Bigger Mountains = Smaller Glaciers

Let’s start with the core issue: Guidance counselors are completely overloaded.  According to the report, the national average ratio of counselors to students is 467 to 1.  This is actually down from a ratio of 506 to 1 in 1997.

Things are worse in Indiana, which ranks 44th with a ratio of 543 to 1.  The recommended ratio is 250 to 1, but only four states (Louisiana, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming) actually meet this guideline.    But impossible caseload ratios only tell part of the story.

From Icebergs to Sno Cones Continue reading

Volunteers Form the Backbone of the Franklin Initiative

The Franklin Initiative is very lucky to have sponsors and donors that value the role of education in the business community. However, without all the help we receive from community volunteers none of our fantastic programs would be possible.

During this busy time of year, we rely heavily on our dedicated group of volunteers who assist us in implementing our programs and events.  Our volunteers come to us with many areas of expertise and help us provide Monroe County students with a variety of creative educational opportunities that otherwise might not be available to them. Continue reading

Better Schools Mean Better Business and Better Community

This column by Travis Vencel, chairman of the board, and Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO, of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce appeared as a guest column in The Herald Times on April 12, 2010.

“Better Business. Better Community.” A simple statement that reflects The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s belief that a strong business climate leads to a higher quality of life for everyone.

But as we all know, it takes many components to build a “better community.” That is why, through The Chamber’s Franklin Initiative, we work daily in our schools to make a difference in young lives, with particular attention paid to at-risk youth. This is a focus area for The Chamber because we also believe that better education creates better business and a better community. Continue reading