Six Foundations Give Big to Reduce High School Dropout Rates

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. Actually, this is 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. City Connects also received the following support:

  • A two-year, $150,000 grant from the GHR Foundation for a cost-benefit/social return on investment analysis of the program’s system of student support.
  • A three-year, $530,000 grant from the Better Way Foundation to extend an early childhood system of student support to all City Connects schools and evaluate immediate and long-term impact on learning and development.
  • $250,000 from the New Balance Foundation, a founding supporter of the program, for implementation and research in Allston-Brighton schools with a special emphasis on addressing student health.
  • $240,000 from the Mathile Family Foundation to adapt the City Connects intervention to older students at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, as well as expansion and evaluation of the program in Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, schools.
  • Funding from the Charles Hayden Foundation to support City Connects’ expansion to two 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.