high-school students

don’t call them dropouts: lifting up student voices

Across the nation, individuals, community organizations and businesses are working together to help raise U.S. graduation rates and keep more students on the path to success. While progress is being made, there’s still work to be done to help students facing the greatest challenges and obstacles.

In May, America’s Promise Alliance released its annual graduation report, 2014 Building a GradNation, which documents progress made in reducing the dropout rate in the United States. America’s Promise Alliance, founded and led by General Colin Powell and his wife Alma Powell, is one of Target’s signature education partners, and Target is a proud sponsor of the Building a GradNation report.

The report revealed some promising news: Since 2010, (the same year Target committed to give $1 billion for education) national high school graduation rates have risen to over 80 percent—the highest rate in U.S. history. Results show the nation is currently on track to meet its goal of reaching 90 percent by 2020, but only if we can keep that momentum going.

To continue the effort, Target partnered with America’s Promise Alliance to support a new companion study to the Building a GradNation report called Don’t Call Them Dropouts, which was released on May 20. This landmark study gives voice to young people behind the statistics who left high school without graduating. It shares the devastating yet reasonable obstacles—often multiple factors such as domestic violence, personal or family health trauma, homelessness or an incarcerated parent—that led them to leave school, and illustrates their strength and resilience as they re-engage in their education or otherwise try to find a path to success. Watch a video to hear young people tell their stories. A common theme among those who persevered is a connection to a caring adult in their lives. By supporting and believing in them, this one person was instrumental in helping to change the young person’s circumstances.

“Target believes in putting the youth voice front and center in this national conversation about the barriers to high school graduation," said Laysha Ward, president, Community Relations, Target. "Now it's essential that we turn these insights into action, ensuring that all young people are positioned for success in a 21st century economy.”

Our team members support students in their communities every day by volunteering for programs like Target School Library Makeovers, our Meals for Minds school food pantry program, Reading Buddies, student mentorship programs, and many other local projects. In 2013, our teams tracked more than 1 million volunteer hours, and are working toward another million in 2014.

Visit the Education page to learn more about how Target and team members support partners and programs to help more kids stay on the path to high school graduation.

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