(Lydia Hastings is working at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center as the Marketing AmeriCorps VISTA. She originally joined the OEC staff over the summer as the Kitchen Coordinator.)
The number of American high school dropouts has reached epidemic levels, as the Alliance of Excellent Education states that over one-third of our students – approximately 1.3 million – do not finish high school each year.
Not only does this hurt the student’s chances of success in the future, it also hurts the American people. It is estimated that high school dropouts from the Class of 2006-07 will cost the United States more than $329 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes.
Although the national outlook on high school dropouts might look bleak, West Virginia is one out of seven states that has shown a positive increase in reducing dropout rates (Barton, Paul E.; pg12). State-funded organizations like West Virginia’s Promise Alliance for Youth are encouraging high school completion. West Virginia’s Promise’s goal is to mobilize communities, raise awareness, and support policies that increase the support young people have in communities where they live. (West Virginia, 5 Promise).
This goal was reached by the guidance of their parent organization, the American Promise Alliance, which began in 1997 when Presidents Clinton, Bush, Ford and First Lady Nancy Reagan, representing President Ronald Reagan, convened at the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future (American, 5 Promise). While there, our nation’s leaders, along with General Colin Powell, created a challenge for Americans to help at-risk youth succeed. The program relies strongly on the belief that if students are prepared for success at a young age, they will have a deeper tie to their community and a stronger chance of achievement in life.
According to the Promise Alliance, it has grown to become the nation’s largest multi-sector Alliance focused on the well-being of young people. One branch of this Alliance is West Virginia’s Promise, which reaches out to other organizations from around the state to identify and mobilize groups that are working to empower youth.
The President’s Summit for America’s Future broke down the challenge into five core promises to be made to every child. These promises became known as the America’s Promise Five Fundamental Resources and are as follows:
o Caring Adults
o Safe Places
o A Healthy Start
o An Effective Education
o Opportunities to Help People.
West Virginia’s Promise identifies communities, organizations or individuals that strive to fulfill these promises and helps them succeed in their mission. By becoming a West Virginia’s Promise Place, members gain access to basic tools that create opportunities for success within their organization.
The West Virginia’s Promise had identified the Outdoor Education Center of For Love of Children (OEC) as being a facility that upholds all five promises to the children they serve. West Virginia’s Promise supports the OEC’s mission and dedication to its students. They see the validity in the work that is accomplished here and they have gone to great efforts to see the success of every child that is inspired and empowered by the OEC.
With the help of the five promise guidelines, the OEC is dedicated to do its part in reducing the high school dropout percentage in West Virginia and surrounding states.
If you would like more information about the West Virginia Promise program, please visit their website at http://www.fivepromises.wv.gov or contact the West Virginia State Director, Pam Dugan, at email@example.com.