September 30, 2013
Afterschool Mentoring Program Expands as Graduation Rates for Participating Students Rise
Exelon/ComEd/United Way Stay in School Initiative shares results as program enters eighth year
CHICAGO — For the sixth consecutive year, public high school seniors who actively participated in an innovative afterschool program created by Exelon, ComEd and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago achieved a graduation rate of more than 90 percent, exceeding the 65 percent average for seniors in Chicago Public Schools.
Students in the Exelon/ComEd/United Way Stay in School Initiative had grade promotion and graduation rates of 85 percent and 92 percent respectively in the 2012-2013 academic year. These and other successes were unveiled on Sept. 28, at the program’s annual kickoff and report card presentation at the Museum of Science and Industry.
The 2013 report card captures data from the 331 core students who were most active in the Stay in School Initiative and tracks the program’s progress and effectiveness in keeping students on the path to graduation. Other report card highlights include:
• 90 percent of Stay in School students improved at least one letter grade in core courses (math, science and English), an 18 percent improvement from last year.
• 78 percent of Stay in School students participated in postsecondary education activities (preparing for qualifying exams, such as the ACT).
• 72 percent of Stay in School students participated in leadership-based activities (defined as non-violent conflict resolution and participation in out-of-school leadership programs).
Since its inception, the program has served approximately 15,000 students ages 13 to 20. It will serve more than 2,000 additional students during the 2013-2014 school year.
Two community-based afterschool agencies have been a part of the Stay in School Initiative since it began: B.U.I.L.D Inc., serving students from the Humboldt Park/West Town neighborhoods, and Youth Guidance, serving the Austin neighborhood. As a result of the program’s success, four new afterschool agencies serving four different communities are joining the initiative this year: Corazon Community Services in Cicero, Gary Comer Youth Center in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, Project: Vision in Chinatown and Bridgeport, and Young Men’s Educational Network in North Lawndale. These agencies were selected because students from these communities have some of the highest dropout and truancy rates in the city.
“One of the indicators we measure at United Way is if students feel like they have someone at school they care about and vice versa,” said Mandee Polonsky, Director of Education at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “As students get older, it’s important they have mentors and people in the community they know care about them. Through the Exelon-ComEd Stay in School Initiative, students are paired with mentors and tutors who fit their personalities and needs so they feel like they have a real partner on their path to success.”
Exelon, its subsidiary ComEd and United Way created the Stay in School Initiative in 2005 to address the numerous issues preventing teens from graduating high school. In 2007, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez presented Exelon the “Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership” in recognition of the program. The Ron Brown Award is the only presidential award that honors companies “for the exemplary quality of their relationships with employees and their communities.”
All six afterschool agencies provide a holistic suite of programs for students and their families that includes tutoring, social services, leadership and social engagement, skill-building and parental workshops. Employee volunteers from Exelon and ComEd provide one-on-one mentoring to the students during a seven-month long workshop series.
“The Stay in School Initiative has given me a sense of pride and accomplishment for my hard work and results in school,” said Gladis Vejar, a junior from Hermosa who attends Lakeview High School. “Plus, the mentors from Exelon and ComEd allow us to gain real world experience and understand how success in the classroom will make us better prepared for life outside of high school.”
“The data from this year’s report card shows that with the right combination of afterschool activities and mentoring from our employees, students from at-risk communities can succeed,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon. “Every year we look for new ways to evolve the partnership and keep the curriculum fresh. The expansion of the Stay in School Initiative this year allows us to increase the footprint of the program and continue to deliver services that are vital to the academic success of the next generation of students.”
Stay in School leverages Exelon’s cultural partnerships and sponsorships to provide participating students with various enrichment and recognition opportunities throughout the year. Exelon also runs a companion job skills development workshop series that will provide up to 15 paid summer internships at the end of this school year for participating students. The internships are divided among Exelon, ComEd, United Way and the afterschool agencies.
Exelon and ComEd have contributed more than $2.8 million to fund the Stay in School Initiative since its creation.
** Stats for Chicago Public Schools are from the CPS Office of Performance**
Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) is the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2012 revenues of approximately $23.5 billion. Headquartered in Chicago, Exelon has operations and business activities in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Exelon is one of the largest competitive U.S. power generators, with approximately 35,000 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets. The company’s Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to approximately 100,000 business and public sector customers and approximately 1 million residential customers. Exelon’s utilities deliver electricity and natural gas to more than 6.6 million customers in central Maryland (BGE), northern Illinois (ComEd) and southeastern Pennsylvania (PECO)
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.
About United Way
United Way advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life by focusing on the three key building blocks for strong families and healthy communities: Education, Income and Health. LIVE UNITED 2020 is United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s community-impact plan, focused on channeling education, income and health resources into 58 communities of greatest need. By 2020, United Way will: help 50,000 underperforming middle school students enter high school ready to succeed, advance economic stability for 100,000 households and connect over 200,000 individuals with available, preventative healthcare. Annually, LIVE UNITED 2020 will provide approximately one million individuals with access to crisis services including emergency food, shelter and freedom from violence. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.