Community Education Goal:
Increase the percentage of central Iowa students who graduate from high school to 95 percent by the year 2020.
Too many young people in central Iowa do not complete high school on time. Research shows they stand to earn $707,400 less over their working lifetime. When you add the burden of increased social costs attributed to dropping out, every dropout represents a million-dollar problem—and a lesser long-term quality of life for the student.
But a dropout is more than 12 years in the making. Young children who enter kindergarten unprepared can become a third-grader who cannot read. Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is a strong predictor for future school success. A third-grader who cannot read is unable to comprehend classroom content in later grades, making it four times more likely that they become a dropout.
Long-term Goals with Short-term Strategies
In our Community Impact Report, the percentage of central Iowa students graduating high school made a slight decrease from 93.7 percent in the prior year to 93.4 percent in 2018, according to data released by the Iowa Department of Education. We believe it's merely due to population growth, and we feel confident we will continue to move the region closer toward its Goal for 2020 to increase graduation rates to 95 percent.
Over the past year, United Way of Central Iowa continued to focus on long-term strategies, like school readiness and early grade reading, in addition to shifting some resources to more immediate, sort-term strategies. United Way provided funding and formed a coalition of educators and volunteers, and together, created tailored strategies to address specific barriers many students who were just falling short of graduating were facing. So far, we're tracking real impact for them and their futures.
WHAT WE FIGHT FOR
Early screenings catch developmental, hearing, and vision issues before they interfere with learning. Children from families with low-income are almost twice as likely to have a reported developmental delay or disability as children from families with higher-income.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
MIDDLE SCHOOL SKILL BUILDING
It is vital to focus on building both academic and social skills in middle school (reading, comprehension, fluency, transition from arithmetic to mathematics, and camaraderie).
WHERE WE WIN
1,602 central Iowa children worked with 1,039 volunteer reading mentors to improve reading skills and school readiness through programs like Book Buddy, Power Read, and Real Men Read.
* Iowa Department of Education
157,767 books for children have been collected over the past five years and distributed for free to childcare centers, schools, nonprofit programs, and others who serve families in low-income households throughout central Iowa through Stuff the Bus and other book drives.
* Iowa Department of Education
63% of middle school students in central Iowa participated in at least one out-of-school activity. Since United Way began funding the Community School Coordinator position at Des Moines Public Schools, 5,163 6th-12th graders participated in more than one out-of-school activity, a 30+% increase.