Graduate Our Future
Graduating our Future is an initiative to increase tutoring, family involvement, counseling, mentoring, and graduation coaching for students at-risk of dropping out. Reducing the number of high school dropouts helps the region maintain economic competiveness and reduces poverty. In 2008, the Y designed the innovative program, Graduating Our Future, in collaboration with Family Services, Inc., Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, in response to a United Way grant opportunity to address high school graduation rates.
Parkland Magnet High School and Philo Magnet Academy were targeted as the pilot schools in January 2008, with expansions in 2010 to Carver High School and its largest feeder school, Mineral Springs Middle School. Expansion occurred again in 2011 to Atkins High School and East Forsyth Middle School. All schools served are an Equity plus status.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools recently experienced the highest graduation rate since the state began tracking the number five years ago. As lead nonprofit agency for the United Way-funded program, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has rallied community organizations, educators, and students to raise the school system graduation rate nearly ten percentage points to 79%.
In addition to the improved graduation rate, dropout and retention (students who do not pass to the next grade) rates have decreased, as well as higher test scores and school attendance.
The program combines a year-round comprehensive, wrap-around approach to academic success, including elements such as Summer Success Academies, Before/During/After School Tutoring, Student/Family Counseling and Graduation Coaches, as well as partnering the students with positive role models from organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters.