How to Get Involved – What You Can Do to Help Build A Grad Nation
As the previous pages have showed, we are making progress. As a child’s decision to drop out is not a sudden act, but a slow process of disengagement over time, so must our commitment to accelerating academic achievement be also over the long haul, snowballing successes. You can help. Many of you already are. So, we asked community groups, policy makers, teachers, parents, and youth themselves, “what can be done?” and they answered. Here are a few concrete and actionable ways that YOU can LEARN, SHARE, VOLUNTEER, DONATE, AND ADVOCATE to help build a grad nation. (Please also see Grad Nation A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle The Dropout Crisis available here for additional resources and recommendations.)
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Solutions exist in your school, church, and community centers that we have not been able to list here. If you have an idea or a suggestion you think we should feature, please contact
Whether you have a child in a school or not, we all have a stake in the quality of education in our communities. YOU can:
- Mentor, tutor, read, support, or coach a young person.
- Volunteer with or donate resources to a community-based organization, school or library.
- Support families in crisis by helping them access social services.
- Provide support for or mentor youth whose families may not have the ability and information necessary to support their healthy development (children of teenage parents, parents in prison, ill parents, unemployed parents, etc).
- Donate a small (or large!) amount to your favorite education organization each month.
Parents and Families:
As the parent, relative, or caregiver of a school-age child, you have a significant impact on your child’s educational success. YOU can:
- Share a book with your child and let him or her see you reading. Share books in the language of the home, your child will benefit just as much.
- Join the PTA or other school-based parent organization and volunteer at the school.
- Create an optimal home learning environment (such as a quiet space for reading and homework) and establish routines for checking each child’s homework to keep them on progress.
- Learn what it takes to graduate from high school in your teen’s district and encourage him or her to stay on track.
- Meet each of your children’s teachers and arrange for them to communicate with you regularly before a problem in academic progress or behavior worsens.
- Know your child’s friends and meet their parents so that you know what other influences impact their ideas besides your teachings.
- Recognize your child’s academic accomplishments.
- Identify the resources in your community that can offer your child mentoring and positive activities after school, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Scouts, YMCA, faith-based organizations, public library and museum programs.
- Visit postsecondary institutions (two-year and four-year colleges and trade schools) in your local community and around the country early on so that you and your child have a sense of what’s possible after high school graduation.
Educators, including Teachers, School Counselors and Administrators:
Quality schools with engaged teachers, counselors and other administrators are critical to children’s education attainment. YOU can:
- Develop and use early warning indicator and intervention systems in your schools and districts.
- Encourage faculty collaboration for sharing information and forming instructional teams within and across grades, particularly at key points of transition.
- Form creative partnerships with community agencies that can offer mentoring and tutoring support and fill possible gaps in school music, art and sports programs.
- Design engaging events that encourage parent and community participation. Use existing resources to create opportunities, such as the Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit (available at www.hfrp.org/HighSchoolSuccessToolkit).
- Engage young people in leadership capacities, either by seeking their input and recommendations or by sharing the decision-making power.
- Take into account young people’s developmental needs and incorporate styles of learning that are engaging, relevant, and motivating.
- Recognize youth for outstanding achievements including through social media tools.
- Demonstrate to young people that you are genuinely interested in their interests. Ask them questions about their lives, their hobbies, things they like to read, listen to, and watch. Give them attention. Talk to them.
To ensure America’s students are ready for the demands of the 21st Century economy and you can find qualified employees for your business, YOU can:
- Recruit other local business leaders to become active in the educational success of the community’s youth
- Meet with state and local policy makers on education legislation to advocate for investment education.
- Provide job awareness and skills to local youth in high school through internships or job shadow programs to help guide students toward careers that match their interests. For more information on Mentor in a Box and how to start a corporate mentoring program visit www.mentoring.org. The White House Council for Community Solutions also recently released a Toolkit For Employers: Connecting Youth and Business (available athttp://www.serve.gov/council_resources.asp).
- Develop workplace flexibility programs and family friendly leave policies that allow employees to attend school-sponsored events and support local school systems.
- Partner directly with nonprofits and the school system to develop and/or support afterschool and other programs that work to keep youth in school and on the path toward graduation.
- Provide in-kind and monetary donations to schools and local nonprofits.
- Learn more from Corporate Voices Call to Action and the Ready by 21 Business Engagement Menu: Increasing Communications Between Business and Community Leaders (available at http://www.corporatevoices.org/our-work/workforce-readiness/ready-21/tools-resources-business-community-leaders).
Our nation’s future depends on you! YOU can:
- Set long-term personal goals and commit to take steps each day to reach them.
- Get involved in your school and community by participating in student-led conferences and assemblies, after-school mentoring or tutoring programs and other extra-curricular activities, volunteering and being civically engaged.
- Refuse to participate in or allow bullying to happen around you. Tell a parent, a guidance counselor, a teacher, a mentor or a friend what is going on when you see something or feel threatened.
- Encourage your friends to come to school by making sure they are up in time for school by calling or texting them.