United Way of Central Maryland Announces Innovative Education Program: On Track 4 Success
Program will work to address staggering central Maryland dropout rate. Two in every 25 students did not graduate high school last year.
BALTIMORE (September 20, 2017) – United Way of Central Maryland today announced the launch of its new education initiative, On Track 4 Success, in select area schools. On Track 4 Success is a collaborative program utilizing school-based support teams and United Way staff, including social workers, to help kids in impoverished neighborhoods stay and succeed in school, with the goal of receiving their diplomas. At a press event today, Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland, along with Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO Baltimore City Public Schools, Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School Principal Benjamin Crandall and Steve Solomon, vice president corporate relations Exelon Corporation and president, Exelon Foundation, unveiled the program, using a visual demonstration of the two in every 25 students in central Maryland who did not graduate high school last year.
“Did you know that every 26 seconds, a student in the U.S. drops out of high school?” Baker asked. “In central Maryland, that dropout rate varies county to county, year over year. Overall, we know that nearly 2,300 students across our region did not graduate high school last year. This equates to two in 25 students, and in our most challenged communities, that can increase to as many as ten in 25. These are not just numbers, these are children who need our help. And what we want these students to know is that they are not alone. That United Way, along with our school partners, teachers, parents, area businesses and each and every one of you – will fight for their education, success and the bright future they deserve.”
As the 2017-2018 academic year begins, thousands of Maryland children are in dire need of support. High school dropouts are ineligible for 90 percent of the jobs available in this country. Studies have found that students who don’t graduate from high school earn approximately $300,000 less than their graduating peers in their lifetime. They also die younger, experience more health issues, and vote and marry less than their graduating peers. In addition, these students have children who do not graduate high school, perpetuating a cycle of poverty in their families. Decreasing high-school dropouts by half would produce $45 billion per year in net economic benefit to society – strengthening neighborhoods across our region.
United Way’s On Track 4 Success program is based on a best-practice early warning response model developed by Dr. Robert Balfanz, a research professor at the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education. This data-driven model applies the proven predictors of dropping out of school, Attendance, Behavior, and Coursework (or the A B Cs), to help educators identify students who are struggling. Bringing together a school-based team to review the data and share knowledge about the student enables them to connect students, and sometimes their families with academic coaching, counseling, health resources and more to get them back on a path to success.
On Track 4 Success was piloted in the 4th and 6th grades at South Baltimore’s Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School during the 2016-2017 school year. The program saw overwhelming success. Of students who fell off track in attendance, behavior or coursework throughout the year, 46 percent were back on track by the end of the school year. Among sixth graders, the team launched a math peer tutoring group for students struggling in basic math skills, helping 67 percent of those students move from off track to on track in mathematics by the end of the year.
This year, United Way is fighting for more students, and has expanded the program to Anne Arundel County Public Schools to include 7th graders at Meade Middle School. The program will also now include 9th graders at Benjamin Franklin High School in Brooklyn Curtis Bay, and will expand its reach at Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School to include grades 4 through 8.
“We hope that with the continued success of these programs, we will be able to roll out On Track 4 Success in additional neighborhoods United Way of Central Maryland serves, including those in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties,” said Natalie Dixon, Education Program Officer, United Way of Central Maryland. “We aim to leave a positive impression on the students we are serving for their entire lives. And that is something we could not do without the backing of everyone who has come out to show their support of our program today, those that worked with us tirelessly over the last year, and those who have signed on to work with us this year. From our sponsors Exelon and McCormick & Company, to Dr. Santelises and Dr. George Arlotto, Superintendent, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and Principals Crandall, Battaglia and DeGuzman, to the teachers, parents and students themselves. It takes all of us working together to make this happen.”
On Track 4 Success is made possible by Exelon Corporation and McCormick & Company. For more information about On Track 4 Success, or to join United Way of Central Maryland’s the fight for education, visit www.uwcm.org/ontrack.
About United Way of Central Maryland
United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in every community. For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Maryland has been improving lives in the communities it serves: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard Counties, and Baltimore City.
All of United Way’s work is supported by the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, a 24-hour, 7-day a week service that provides information and referrals on a variety of health and human service issues. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the program has provided answers for more than 104,000 calls for help in fiscal year 2016.
In January 2017, United Ways in Maryland released the ALICE® Report, revealing that more than a third of Maryland households – nearly 750,000 – either live in poverty, or qualify at or below the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold. United Way of Central Maryland works to stabilize ALICE residents – individuals and families who work hard but still cannot afford basic necessities because of Maryland’s high cost of living – and those that fall below the Federal Poverty Level, by focusing on the building blocks of a better life to become self-sufficient: education, employment, housing and health.
United Way is improving lives in central Maryland communities, but no one can create change alone. United Way of Central Maryland encourages individuals to get their friends, colleagues and others involved, to do more in the community and help more families in central Maryland. Working together, United Way of Central Maryland, its supporters and its volunteers can empower more families in the communities it serves.