CHICAGO (Sept 22, 2014) - For the first time, 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 100 percent, exceeding the 69 percent average for seniors in Chicago Public Schools. This is the seventh consecutive year that participating seniors' graduation rate exceeded 90 percent.
Students in the Exelon/ComEd/United Way Stay in School Initiative had a grade promotion rate of 97 percent in the 2013-2014 academic year. The sponsoring organizations reported these and other successful outcomes at the annual program kickoff at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sept. 20.
"The Stay in School Initiative is taking an innovative approach to student success," said Illinois State Sen. Martin Sandoval, who addressed students. "It brings new resources into areas with the highest dropout rates in the city. Programs like this one reinforce the idea that at-risk students can achieve academic success with the community's support. We are of proud of the initiative and perseverance these students continue to show."
The 2014 Stay in School report card captures data from the 330 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:
• 77 percent of students improved at least one grade in core courses, such as math, science, English, social studies or a foreign language.
• 80 percent of students participated in leadership-based activities, such as peer mentoring or serving as team captains.
• 77 percent of students participated in postsecondary education activities (preparing for qualifying exams, such as the ACT).
Since its inception in 2005, the program has served approximately 18,000 students ages 11 and up, including more than 3,000 students during the 2013-2014 school year.
"The right combination of attention and enrichment activities improves a student's grades, attendance and pro-social behavior. Our 2014 Stay in School report card proves that," said Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon. "For seven consecutive years, core seniors in the program have maintained a graduation rate higher than 90 percent - and this year, for the first time, 100 percent of them graduated."
Six community- based afterschool agencies are part of the Stay in School Initiative: B.U.I.L.D Inc., serving students from the Humboldt Park/West Town, Youth Guidance in Austin, Corazon Community Services in Cicero, Gary Comer Youth Center in Greater Grand Crossing, 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.
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.
"We believe tackling the education crisis begins with connecting communities to their schools," said Sofia Mendez, community engagement senior manager at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. "It's important to involve parents, mentors and business leaders in youth academic advocacy. The Stay in School Initiative offers services that engage the community and propel student achievement."
In addition to the afterschool programming, Exelon runs a companion job skills development workshop series that will provide up to 16 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.
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. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
About United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is part of a network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries and territories. Locally, the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC) support system includes North-Northwest United Way, United Way of DuPage/West Cook and South-Southwest Suburban United Way. UWMC serves as the backbone organization generating coordinating resources across funders, service providers, government and civic leaders to deliver large-scale, measurable and sustainable impact across our region. Additional information is available at http://uw-mc.org/