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Support from Start to Finish Key to Educational Success

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Support from Start to Finish Key to Educational SuccessPhoto by Rick Buchanan.
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The success of any community begins with the education of its residents, but for some students, graduation can come with barriers. Ten years ago, when City Year Columbus initiated its partnership with Columbus City Schools, active efforts by the organization to improve the community began their direct impact on urban students. What started as projects in graffiti removal, neighborhood beautification, playground builds and after school programming transformed into hands-on community development through one-on-one student mentorships.

City Year Columbus runs an AmeriCorps program in seven local schools, which connects 18 to 25-year-olds with students at risk of dropping out.

“These are students who are struggling in the areas of math and English, have attendance issues, and who might be having behavioral issues for one reason or another,” said Tasha Booker, Vice President and Executive Director for City Year Columbus. “We know that our students need more support than what schools are able to provide, and we’re able to provide on-one-one interventions in those subject areas that we know students struggle the most in and prevent students from graduating on time and on track.”

This year was the start of their latest partnership with Windsor Elementary School as they begin to fill out complete feeder patterns, working with students from kindergarten to senior year. The approach aims to start students on track and work with them through high school to make sure they stay on track, “because studies have shown that if you can get a student on track and on time to 10th grade, they are four times more likely to graduate than a student who is behind and off track,” said Booker.

Their current partners are Linden-McKinley High School, Trevitt Elementary School, Champion Middle School, South High School, Livingston Elementary School and Mifflin High School. Using a “Whole School, Whole Child” method, City Year’s AmeriCorps members meet with students personally for tutoring before, during, and after school, run after school clubs and service projects, communicate with family for progress updates, take attendance and make calls to encourage tardy students to come to school.

As they look forward, their goal is to expand their Columbus presence by entering 17 schools and employing 160 more AmeriCorps members. Their partnership with the Columbus Foundation is part of what makes that goal reachable.

“It does take financial resources for us to be able to go into a new school and start a new school partnership, and the Columbus Foundation and the Big Give allows us to leverage those resources in order for us to be able to support more students,” said Booker.

City Year’s unique funding model allows them to leverage $2 for every $1 of funding they receive. If they’re able to get school district funds, they can leverage that to request additional federal dollars through the Community Connectors program, through AmeriCorps, and through other state and local funding streams, “and we also are able to leverage that in the private sector, so again, the Columbus Foundation and the donors that give to the Foundation.”

Booker said the Foundation offers more than financial support, allowing City Year Columbus to spread awareness about its mission and ultimately grow because of that awareness. In the 23 years the two organizations have maintained this relationship, City Year has come out of the margins, into the schools, and has achieved enough growth to focus on filling out its presence and offer students a comprehensive track that takes them from kindergarten to graduation.

For more information, visit cityyear.org/columbus.

To learn more about The Big Give, visit columbusfoundation.org/giving-events/big-give-2017.

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