Dear Family and Friends,
As many of you know, I have been working at Citizen Schools, a national non-profit education reform organization for nearly 3 wonderful years. Citizens Schools' vision is to close the opportunity and achievement gap for low income, underserved youth by extending the learning day and engaging students in real world learning, ensuring that all children graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and their careers.
I do this work because I'm alarmed by the following statistics and am committing my career to closing the achievement gap for the most deserving children.
- In the U.S., only 1 in 2 children of color graduate from high school. In Boston, nearly 40% of students are not graduating on time
- More than 1/3 of 8th graders across Massachusetts attending urban school districts were at risk of dropping out of high school, based on early warning indicators such as grades, behavior, and attendance.
- High school drop outs are 4x more likely to be unemployed and close to 50% more likely to be incarcerated
- Careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are the fasting growing sectors, all the while, 46% of low income schools are teaching science for 94 minutes less on average and only 6% of kids report they intend to major in STEM (down from 36% a decade ago)
Citizen Schools is proving that our model works. Through a 10 year external study conducted by Policy Study Associates, we've proven that:
- Students who attend our program are getting better grades
- Citizen Schools alumni attend more than 7 weeks more high school than their peers.
- Citizen Schools participants had a 20% higher high school graduation rate.
Over the last year, two significant things happened to me at Citizen Schools. First, I joined our Development (a.k.a. fundraising) team, devoting my work to raise the $4 million dollars needed to impact the lives of over 1200 underserved students in MA. Second, and more significanty, I joined the movement and volunteered on the front line by teaching an apprenticeship with my colleague Lori Stevens, a 12 week course about Studying Abroad in college. We taught at The Orchard Gardens School in Roxbury to a group of 6th and 7th graders, many of whom had low expectations for their futures, with little knowledge about college. Orchard Gardens is one of the poorest performing schools in the entire state of MA, where last year 1% of 8th graders were proficient in science and 8% proficient in mathematics- absolutely horrifying statistics. The experience was enriching, inspiring, challenging though personally very meaningful. The picture to the left shows some of my beloved students and this NEWS CLIP on NBC features Citizen Schools efforts to turnaround this low performing school. It made the national news! Check it out.
I'm reaching out to each of you to support our annual, grassroots fundraising effort in which all Citizen Schools employees engage their personal networks to raise funds for our organization.
Would you contribute to my campaign to raise $1,000 by March 15th?
Next year we will double the number of students we serve in Massachusetts and this campaign is part of that effort.
Thank you so much for your support and your commitment to education reform in our country.