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Our Approach

Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that students who are at risk of dropping out can be identified as early as elementary school using three early warning indicators: poor attendance, disruptive behavior and course failure in math and English. A child who exhibits even one of these indicators as early as sixth grade has a 75 percent chance of dropping out. We call these the ABCs. 

However, research shows that students who reach 10th grade on track and on time are four times more likely to graduate. We partner with school districts to place our AmeriCorps members in the schools that need us the most and provide students with one-on-one support to overcome challenges they face both in and out of school. And, in addition to working with individual students who are at-risk of dropping out, we also provide support to help transform the whole school – including leading school-wide events and activities, after school programming, and in class support for teachers.


Here’s what we do to help students stay on track to graduate:

Attendance monitoring and engagement: Roadblocks, like lack of transportation and family challenges, make it hard for some students to get to school. That’s why we keep an eye on attendance. This involves everything from talking with students about their challenges to simple gestures such as greeting them on their way into school.  And when they aren’t there on time, we’ll make phone calls home.

Socio-Emotional support: We act as role models both through example and positive coaching. If students are having a hard time, we pull them aside and address their concerns, transforming their experience into a positive one.

Support in math and English: We also work closely with teachers to identify learning gaps and help differentiate instruction for students who need it most through one-on-one tutoring. We also create after school programs that help students succeed in math and English to stay on track and graduate with their peers.

Whole School Initiatives

Chicago-School-Wide Activities and events: Appreciation and Recognition:Whole Class Support In ELA and Math Courses

Diplomas Now Participant 

City Year Chicago is partnering with Communities in Schools and Talent Development to improve our nation’s most challenged schools. The program, called Diplomas Now, identifies students at risk for dropping out and sets personalized goals to help them graduate.

Learn more about Diplomas Now 

Prioritizing Safety

AmeriCorps members in Chicago often work in tough neighborhoods, where poverty and crime is high. At City Year, we take safety seriously. Every AmeriCorps member undergoes in-depth safety training, and is encouraged to get to know the neighborhood in which they live and work. 

Learn More