Barr Foundation Gives Big To Reduce Dropout Rates in Boston Public Schools

For the 2012-2013 school year, the high school dropout rate in Boston Public Schools was 4.5%. This is a 1.9% decrease from the previous year, totalling 391 fewer student dropouts. It's actually the lowest rate Boston School District has ever seen.

To get that percentage even lower, the Boston-based Barr Foundation is giving big to City Connects' efforts in Boston Public Schools. The foundation announced a $1.4 million three-year grant to City Connects, a support program that offers students tailored sets of prevention, intervention, and enrichment services. Barr's grant will fund City Connects' programs in 18 Boston Public Schools. (Read Barr Foundation: Boston Grants).

“The Barr Foundation’s support allows us to continue working in Boston Public Schools, where 7,800 children benefit from the student support provided by City Connects,” said Mary E. Walsh, Ph.D., Executive Director of City Connects. “With this funding, we are able to continue our longitudinal research on the ways City Connects positively impacts students and schools. We see that children in City Connects high schools, for example, have lower dropout rates—long after they have left a City Connects elementary school. Supporting Boston’s students and being able to examine how student support contributes to these positive outcomes is critical.”

However, Barr isn't the only foundation who sees value in City Connects' services. Five other foundations recently contributed a total of $2.6 million to benefit over 15,000 students in Massachusetts and Ohio. Another Boston-based foundation and founding supporter of City Connects programming, the New Balance Foundation, made a $250,000 contribution for implementation and research related to student health in Allston-Brighton schools. The Charles Hayden Foundation, which has offices in both New York City and Boston, also supported City Connects' expansion to two other Boston Schools.

City Connects is active in 55 different locations including public and private schools in Boston, Springfield, New York City, and Dayton. This recent show of financial support will help teachers and staff connect with at-risk students and devise strategies for more effective student programming. “The statistical evidence of City Connects’ positive benefit reducing the high-school drop-out rate provides an example of a benefit that has substantial social and economic return to students and to society,” Walsh said.