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Grad Nation summit to find ways to raise graduation rate


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  • Amanda Kucich/United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Pima County, AZ – Community officials, business leaders, educators, parents and youth in Pima County announced today they will come together on December 6th to examine local data and identify what’s working and where challenges remain in the area’s efforts to prepare young people for success in and out of school.  The Pima County Grad Nation Community Summit (the Summit) will also serve as a launching pad for the development of a multi-year community action plan that outlines how Pima County will accelerate efforts to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by the class of 2020.  This plan will include a series of metrics and a process for evaluating progress.

 The Summit is part of 100 that will be held around the country over the next four years. The Summits are co-sponsored  by America’s Promise Alliance as part of the Grad Nation Campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.
 “The economic and overall wellbeing of Pima County is at risk unless we come together to support our children and youth better,” said Tony Penn, CEO & President of United Way. “This Summit is a great opportunity to do that and put together a plan that builds on and strengthens what we are already doing so we can serve more children and families and increase our graduation rate.”
Joe Snell (Executive Director of TREO), Judge Karen Adam (Presiding Judge of Pima County Juvenile Court Center, Judge Ron Wilson (Presiding Judge of South Tucson), Dr. Lou Albert (PCC West Campus President), Dr. Francisco Garcia (Pima County Health Dept. Director) and Paul Luna (President/CEO of the Helios Education Foundation) will be among those taking part in the Pima County Grad Nation Community Summit.  The Summit will feature breakout sessions and discussions on Early Literacy, Early Warning Systems, Quality Out of School Time Programs, Re-engagement Centers, Community Schools and College Access.
Giving the keynote address will be Jeff Edmondson, Managing Director for STRIVE Together in Cincinnati, OH.
The 2013 Building a Grad Nation report found that for the first time, the nation is on track to meet the goal of 90 percent national graduation rate by the class of 2020. The report found the national high school graduation rate increased 6.5 percentage points since 2001 with an average growth of 1.25 percentage points each year from 2006-2010 to its current rate of 78.2 percent. In Pima County, 71.7% percent of teens graduated on time from high school in 2013. Nationwide, more than one in five students fails to graduate within four years.
 “The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people,”  said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the one in Pima County, AZ are rallying points for communities.  America’s Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in the City of Tucson and Pima County and communities across the country to help advance this campaign.”
Research has shown that when young people have access to more of the essential academic, health and life resources, what America’s Promise calls the “Five Promises” – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others – the more likely they are to succeed academically and socially. Summit attendees will discuss how Pima County can better align programs supporting youth around these Five Promises.
The premier sponsor of the national Grad Nation Community Summits campaign is AT&T, whose support is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to graduate more students from high school ready for college and career.  Other summit sponsors include the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, Ford Foundation, DeVry Foundation, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Graduation Alliance, Southwest Airlines, and the Apollo Group. Local sponsors for the Pima County Summit include the University of Phoenix and Pima Community College.
“As a member of the Tucson business community, AT&T has a huge stake in ensuring our community has a robust educated workforce.  Working with educators, parents and nonprofits at the local level is the best way to ensure we stay on track.  Our collective future depends on it, and it will take all of us working together to achieve it,” commented Jerry Fuentes, President of Arizona-New Mexico of AT&T Inc.
For more information and to learn how to get involved in the effort locally visitwww.unitedwaytucson.org. For more information about to get involved at the national lever visitwww.americaspromise.org.