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Poverty is real in Memphis – more than 79% of students are economically disadvantaged and Memphis proficiency rates fall below the Tennessee state averages: elementary and middle schools as a group, 40.4% of students were proficient or advanced in math and 32.6 % were proficient or advanced in reading. We work hard to ensure that our AmeriCorps members help students get back on track to graduate on time.

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.

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