Tag Archives: Franklin Initiative

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.

Support Our Students by Acting Now

The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce encourages the MCCSC school board to act now on determining the budget for the referendum dollars.

Christy GillenwaterThe Chamber supported the MCCSC Referendum because we recognized that the referendum was necessary to ensure our community’s future. We work daily to build better business and a better community and current and future students comprise our future workforce. Moreover, today’s students are the children of area employees and employers.

Through the Chamber’s Franklin Initiative, we partner with local schools to staff a full‐time Graduation Coach at each high school, funded through outside grants. Due to this and other dropout prevention strategies, the number of students who dropped out last year decreased by 17% from the previous year.

However, the Graduation Coach Initiative has also taught us that schools need more resources, especially when it comes to engaging at‐risk students. The number of dropouts continues to be too high in MCCSC, and that will continue until we address the sobering fact that thirty percent of MCCSC students are not reading at grade level. Therefore, literacy and dropout prevention need to be a primary focus.

On November 2, voters stepped up and supported the referendum. Due to time constraints, class scheduling for the fall, etc. the board had to act swiftly after the election. They formed a committee of respected school and community leaders to make thoughtful, rational recommendations, supported by data, on how to spend referendum dollars.

The committee, which included experienced MCCSC staff with an inside understanding of the needs faced by our students, proposed a comprehensive system of literacy interventions and implementation of an effective alternative school model proven to reduce the dropout rate. Their recommendations will improve educational outcomes among the students who need it the most, and they need to be implemented now. Our students don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next superintendent, and every day matters.

As a volunteer member of the referendum steering committee, never did I hear promises to restore the school system to its identical state before the cuts occurred. When The Chamber publicly voiced support for the referendum, we advocated that referendum dollars be used to decrease classroom sizes, increase the graduation rate, and to fund reforms where needed. We must continue to look for improvements in order to best use the additional resources generously bestowed by the taxpayers.

Voters approved the referendum to support our children and MCCSC. They entrusted the board and staff to then make the tough decisions about what is best for our kids. We now have additional resources to keep our community competitive, and there is no need to accept the status quo. That is why The Chamber urges the MCCSC school board to act now to seize the opportunities presented and not be content to continue with business as usual.

Finally, we recognize that these are extraordinary times for MCCSC. Our school system continues to face major challenges, but also amazing opportunities. We look to the school board to set the vision for the desired outcomes for our schools, and thank them for their countless hours of service addressing these important issues.

Christy Gillenwater
President & C.E.O.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce

10 Reasons to Use Evidence-Based Programs

Many youth service providers feel they need to invent their own unique program.  Not so.  Plenty of proven, off-the-shelf models and programs are out there just waiting for the right application.  Odds are, some of them are designed to produce the exact outcomes you are looking for.

Here are 10 reasons to check them out and find one that works for your clientele.

  1. They Work. ‘Evidence-Based’ means it’s based on research.  In addition, there has usually been some kind of quasi-experimentation involving pre- and post-testing and comparisons with control groups.
  2. They’re Fundable. Over the past ten years, funding agencies, especially federal funders, have increasingly called for evidence based programs.  Sometimes they even provide a shopping list of programs that they are willing to fund.
  3. Just Add Water. There’s no need to spend time developing procedures, creating forms, and designing programs.  All these have already been developed, probably by someone who knows more about what works than you do.
  4. Instructions. The manual is already written, usually in step-by-step format. 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