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Tapping into San José’s Potential

Every year, more than 2,600 students in San José drop out of high school. The consequences for our community are real: Students who drop out are eight times more likely to become incarcerated and three times more likely to be unemployed. When a student drops out of school it has a lasting effect on our communities and society as a whole. 

Students who drop out earn roughly $1 million less than high school graduates. Furthermore, out-of-school, out-of-work youths collectively cost Americans about $1.6 trillion in increased social services and lost earnings and taxes over the course of their lifetimes. But there is a solution. Using near-peer mentors in San José's most under-served schools to address specific areas that lead to students dropping out, City Year helps close the gap, between what students need to succeed and what schools are designed to provide.

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 Alum Rock Union Elementary School District and East Side Union High School District to place our 138 City Year 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. In addition to working with individual students who are at-risk of dropping out, we provide support to help transform the whole school – including leading school-wide events and activities, after school programming, and in-class support for teachers and students.   

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 City Year San Jose keeps an eye on student attendance. AmeriCorps members actively engage parents, community stakeholders and students through conversations or calls home as well as work to create a welcoming environment by greeting students upon arrival to school.

Socio-Emotional Support: City Year AmeriCorps members serve as role models and near-peer mentors to over 7,000 students in East San Jose. Additionally, AmeriCorps members provide an additional layer of support to students who qualify for positive coaching by focusing on their socio-emotional development. Through our data-driven  approach, we are able to better ensure the success of all students in and out of the classroom.

Support in Math and English: AmeriCorps members are trained to provide an array of targeted interventions for students who have been identified as displaying a high-level need in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. City Year implements strategic research-based and data-driven interventions that are further maximized through a one-on-one or small group setting. By aligning instruction to the Common Core State Standards, City Year is directly working to ensure that all students are on a path to be college- and career-ready.

Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Afterschool Program: City Year San Jose believes strongly in the power of an extended learning day to foster 21st century skills and increase students’ college and career readiness. During our afterschool program, AmeriCorps members spend three hours a day providing direct instruction to students as a co-facilitator in a classroom of up to 30 students, five days a week. Our standardized Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) curricula is implemented across our elementary and middle schools in order to provide learning opportunities that enhance content knowledge, and foster students’ abilities to think critically and creatively.

Whole School Initiatives

San-Jose-School- Wide Activities and Events: Appreciation and Recognition:Whole Class Support In ELA and Math Courses


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