Denise Juneau addresses program managers from across the state
Networking at the Graduation Matters Montana conference in Bozeman this past June 18th, the Kalispell team got to hear reports on the progress of other communities related to their student graduation rates. Great Falls reduced their drop-out rate by 118 students and found creative ways to share their efforts with the general community. Billings was very interested in exploring the Kalispell model for an I-Pledge to begin exploring the possibility for an event of their own. In the afternoon each group headed to work sessions focusing on specific needs related to their programs. Identifying and creating prevention strategies for “chronic absenteeism” was just one powerful presentation that may be utilized in the Kalispell community.
Photo from recent I-Pledge event (above)
Superintendent Denise Juneau announced the award of 39 grants to Montana schools and United Ways to increase the number of Montana students who graduate from high school prepared for college and careers, for a total of $203,000 to support local Graduation Matters initiatives across the state. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded an additional $450,000 in January from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation to support community-based Graduation Matters initiatives. AT&T provided $18,000 to add to this year’s Graduation Matters Montana Challenge Fund grants.
“We have celebrated significant gains in Montana’s high school graduation rate due to the Graduation Matters efforts of local communities,” said Superintendent Juneau. “Hundreds of students have had their lives changed as a result of focused attention by educators, families and community members to ensure young people in Montana have the opportunity to achieve their educational and career goals.”
Since the launch of Graduation Matters Montana, the statewide dropout rate has been on the decline, and the graduation rate has gone up. Montana’s high school dropout rate has decreased from 5.0 percent in 2009 to 3.6 percent in 2014, and the graduation rate has increased from 80.7 percent in 2009 to 85.4 percent in 2014. This is the highest the graduation rate has been in Montana since the OPI began calculating the graduation rate in 2000.
“We continue to invest in Graduation Matters Montana because it’s working,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “Graduation rates are up, dropout rates are down, and hundreds more Montana students are looking at brighter futures because of the work that local schools and community leaders are doing to make sure every student in Montana graduates.”
According to calculations made by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Montana is likely to see significant economic gains as a result of increases in its high school graduation rate over the period of 2009 to 2014. The Alliance estimates Montana will see a $5.9 million annual boost to the state’s economy going forward and an increase of $12.3 million in spending on homes and a $700,000 increase in automobile sales. Collectively, the additional graduates will likely earn an additional $95 million over the course of their lifetimes, compared to if they had not graduated from high school.
There are currently 53 Graduation Matters communities, and nearly 80 percent of public high school students now attend a school with a Graduation Matters initiative. Graduation Matters communities have focused on identifying students most at risk of dropping out, developing dropout prevention strategies and interventions, building community support, increasing college-going rates, and offering students college and career exploration opportunities.
2015 Graduation Matters Montana Grantees:
Billings: $5,000 (United Way of Yellowstone County)
Box Elder: $3,500
Columbia Falls: $7,500
Graduation Matters Gallatin County (United Way of Gallatin County): $5,000
Great Falls: $10,000 (United Way of Cascade County)
Hays-Lodge Pole: $3,500
Helena (Capital and Helena High each received $4,000): $8,000
Hot Springs: $1,500
Miles City: $7,000
Rocky Boy: $6,600
St. Ignatius: $5,000
Thompson Falls: $6,000
Three Forks: $3,000
Graduation Matters Kalispell could not pull off its featured I-Pledge to Graduate event without local businesses helping to sponsor the event. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Jennifer Winters joins DeAnn Thomas for photo op. (Glacier Bank)
Penny accepts community certificate at McDonald’s
Employees from First Interstate Bank smile for GMK
Daily Inter Lake is also greatly appreciated!
Also thank you to PEPSI and APPLIED MATERIALS for their support.
Graduation Matters Kalispell has reduced the Kalispell dropout rate to 3.5 percent since first beginning the program in 2012. The goal is to keep decreasing the dropout rate by 0.5 percent each year until it reaches zero. Graduation Matters Kalispell has received a Challenge Fund grant to support their summer credit recovery and Christmas Catch Up programs, coordinate the “I pledge to Graduate” public awareness campaign and recruit adult mentors for sophomores who are at risk of not graduating. GMK also greatly appreciates a recent visit from Denise Juneau last February for our I-Pledge to Graduate event.
Students enjoy I-Pledge event recently at Fairgrounds (above)
Link to recent article: Challenge Fund
Another successful I-Pledge to Graduate event at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. Special thanks to Superintendent of Public Schools Denise Juneau for her visit this year. See some highlights from this year below:
Click the link below to read about the good things happening through the Great Falls Graduation Matters Program. With reduction of drop-outs being a state-wide initiative we celebrate these important gains in all of our Graduation Matters communities. Don’t forget that Kalispell is still looking for mentors to support our program here.
After launching our mentoring program last year with the help of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flathead County GMK is seeking a new group of caring adults to meet with young students who might be thinking of dropping out. Mentorships change lives. If you are interested, please call 751-3432 for more information.
Despite some potential “rough seas” at the north end of Flathead Lake on Wednesday (July 23rd) Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Flathead along with mentors/mentees from the Graduation Matters Kalispell program spent the afternoon sailing and swimming with long time air force captain, “Captain Yak.” The activity was one of several this year organized by BBBSFC to give adult/student matches some get to know you time. Many of the students had never been on a sailboat before and screamed accordingly when the craft caught a good wind and turned on its side. The group also enjoyed a BBQ lunch of hamburgers and turkey sausage.