Driving the student dropout issue


Increases in Toledo’s high school dropout rate is shocking.  The United Way and America’s Promise Alliance are teaming up to correct this problem and to get the local community involved. 
Some studies estimate Ohio’s graduation rate to be 79 percent.  With a $10,000 grant from America’s Promise Alliance, the United Way held a summit on November 19 to discuss the problem and how to rectify it. 
“One of the United Way’s strengths is our ability to convene key players around a table,” said Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo President and CEO.  “Our goal was to come away from the day with ideas and recommendations for strong long-term solutions to continue attacking this issue and I think we accomplished that.” 
The summit included community representatives, including educators, parents, students, business owners, officials from juvenile justice and government. Attendees (over 200) divided into groups to discuss improving graduation rates and college readiness. The groups indentified assets in the community and potential solutions, including formal and informal mentoring, parental engagement, and community involvement.
While the initiative is being driven by United Way, Greg Braylock, United Way Community Impact Specialist says that the organization does not want to “own” the task. “We definitely want to have community engagement in this process and the ongoing work of making sure that kids are prepared for post-secondary work and education, and, ultimately, life.”
Kitson agreed.  “This is a community issue and we need everyone to reach out a hand, mentor a child, tutor a teen, get involved in the conversation.”
Still compiling information from the summit, United Way is welcoming interested families and community members to join their email list, and to stay up-to-date on developments. Email greg.braylock@unitedwaytoledo.org. United Way of Greater Toledo, 419-248-2424/www.unitedwaytoledo.com