United Way of Stanislaus County works to create long term change in our community. Along with supporting programs that meet the needs of people in crisis, we are giving people the tools they need to build a successful life through education. After a decision to adopt an Initiative Based Funding Model, United Way underwent a 1 year research process to determine how we could reach our educational goal of increasing the graduation rate in Stanislaus County. With the help of an Education Initiative Committee; a community group of experts. United Way used scholarly research and local focus group data to determine that the focus of our Education Initiative will target student engagement in 7th and 8th graders. This is the age that students need help staying on the track to success. Transition in school environment and workload, accompanied by social stress, hormones and other challenges make this a very difficult age. Students need extra support and motivation in order to succeed in middle school as they transition to high school.
Education Initiative Update
With the focus of our initiative determined, we identified the Graduation Coach Program as a proven method to increasing student engagement. Led by United Way, in partnership with the Center for Human Services, the Graduation Coach Program is an evidenced-based student engagement program working with middle school students who are at risk of dropping out of school. Graduation Coaches use the Check and Connect intervention model to work closely with students and school personal to help students overcome their barriers to academic success. The Coach checks-in with students through one-on-one and small group sessions. They also bridge communication between parents and school through regular visits and phone calls to parents; increasing support for the students’ academic achievement. Each site Coach connects students to community resources that help them reduce barriers to success in school.
With help from the Graduation Coaches, students are improving their attendance, reducing problem behaviors, achieving better grades/raising their GPA and renewing their comittment to education. Most importantly, they are learning life skills, building self-esteem and the perseverance needed to succeed in 8th grade and throughout high school.
One student started the program in November 2013 with a 1.5 GPA - a D average. But "something clicked" during a conversation with her Graduation Coach when they discussed the future, and now she's talking about attending college. Her GPA now stands at 2.9 - a B. She's concerned about her grades and wants to make the honor roll this year!
The Graduation Coach program is well-respected by school administrators and educators because it is making a remarkable impact. Program implementation began in Fall, 2013 and is currently being offered at 3 locations this school year throughout the county: Creekside Middle School in Patterson, Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School, and Prescott Jr. High. Read more about the program here. The Graduation Coach program is led by United Way of Stanislaus County in partnership with Center for Human Services.
Education Initiative Supporting Partners