A Community at Odds: Graduating the Most ‘at-risk’

St. Louis ArchThis weekend sparks the beginning of many high school graduation ceremonies in the St. Louis metropolitan area. As seniors motivate themselves to keep going to class these last few days, feelings of relief and accomplishment fill the halls. Summer plans are made to enjoy the last hurrahs with friends and family before many prepare to move onto college. Many of these teens are transitioning into young adulthood, diplomas in hand, ready to pursue lofty dreams of achievement and success.

Just across the street, however, is another story. There are similar feelings of excitement that school is nearing its end and teens are drafting plans for the next steps in their lives. The reality, however, is that some of these seniors are just a few of those left standing. For poor communities, such as those found in the pockets of poverty that encompass our city, graduating from high school is a goal that is systemically difficult to achieve.

Consider the following:

  • Each year, approximately 1.3 million students fail to graduate from high school: more than half are students of color. (Source: All4ed.org)
  • The graduation rate among students of color is as much as 25 percentage points below their white peers. A student within the age range of 16 to 24 years old, who comes from the lowest quartile of family income, is about seven times more likely to have dropped out of high school than his/her counterpart who comes from the highest quartile.  (Source: All4ed.org)
  • Furthermore, research shows that students who reside in communities with lower levels of economic sustainability have greater obstacles to overcome:
    • Increased pressure to add to the family income
    • Poorly resourced schools
    • Lower levels of mobility and higher levels of instability (Source: Clemson University)

This means that students who are graduating from public high schools in socioeconomically depressed regions (and are perhaps also students of color), are beating the odds. The cards are stacked up against them but they are earning their diploma. And for many teens who fit this description and participate in Wyman programming, these individuals who were ‘at-risk’ of dropping out are even going onto college, persisting and obtaining degrees in higher education. We hope that you will join us as a community to congratulate those who have made it and continue to cheer for, encourage and support those that did not.

Let us never forget that when our young people succeed, so does our community. If you’d like to participate in our goal of helping teens persist through school, learn more about our programs and get involved with the work that Wyman is pursuing—to enable teen from disadvantaged circumstances to lead successful lives and build strong communities, sign up for communications from Wyman.

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