Eleven years after the Stay in School Initiative was created by Exelon, ComEd and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to fight the high dropout and truancy rates in various Chicago Public Schools, Stay in School and its six community partners have served over 25,000 students ages 11 and up. The 2015-16 Report Card revealed that 92 percent of students who actively participated in the Stay in School programs were excelling and eligible for graduation.
This incredible progress is attributed to the holistic menu of programs the initiative and its partners offer to students and their families. Some of these programs include tutoring, social services, development of pro-social behaviors, parent involvement classes, a reward and recognition program, mentoring and a skills-building workshop. Stay in School also provides afterschool programs to high school students from neighborhoods where school dropout rates are among the highest in the city, including Austin, Humboldt Park/West Town, Bridgeport, Cicero, North Lawndale and Grand Crossing.
“The students we serve through the Stay in School program have not always been given the resources and opportunities they deserve,” said Steve Solomon, president of the Exelon Foundation. “For the past 11 years, Exelon and its partners have worked to give students the support they need to help their education and prepare for the future. We are so proud of what the students have been able to accomplish.”
Exelon and ComEd employees also volunteer as one-on-one Stay in School mentors. They work with students to build tangible career skills including how to write a resume, how to network and interview for a job and appropriate behaviors necessary for a corporate job. Additionally, more than 200 employees have donated their time to the community partners by participating in mentoring workshops, special events at their schools, summer community service projects, renovation and landscaping projects, student recognition events and cultural events.
“Working with Stay in School mentors, I got help building up my self-confidence and career advice from the real world,” said North Park University student Chenelle Somerville. “Before this program, I didn’t know if I was going to graduate high school. Now, I just started my second year of college and I plan to pursue my masters in communications. I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”
The Stay in School Initiative has kept students on track for graduation and instilled in them a desire for academic achievement. The 2015-16 Report Card surveyed 692 students who participated most intensively in Stay in School programs and found:
- 91% of students had at least a 90% attendance rate
- The percent of students with 90% school attendance is up significantly from 2015’s 77.8%
- 98% were eligible for grade promotion
- 92% of seniors were eligible for graduation
These continuing advancements are made possible by collaborating with valued community agencies; B.U.I.L.D. Inc., Corazon Community Services, Gary Comer Youth Center, Project: VISION, Young Men’s Educational Network, and Youth & Opportunity United. Each agency is focused on encouraging Chicago students to engage more actively in academics and contribute positively to society.
Erie Elementary Charter School, Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy, George Leland Elementary School, Michele Clark Academy Prep Magnet High School, Kelvyn Park High School, Wells Community Academy, Morton Freshman Center, Morton East High School, Gary Comer College Prep, Baker College Prep, Brooks College Prep, Butler College Prep, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, University of Chicago Woodlawn Charter, Kenwood Academy High School, South Shore International College Preparatory High School, Albert G. Lane Technical High School, UIC College Prep, Marie S. Curie Metropolitan High School, William Jones College Preparatory High School, Kenwood Academy High School, Thomas Kelly High School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep High School, George Westinghouse College Prep, North Lawndale College Prep, Little Village High School, DRW Trading College Prep, Chicago Bulls College Prep, Whitney Young High School, Crane Medical Preparatory High School, Evanston Township High School, Chute Middle School, King Arts School, Lincoln Jr. High School, Nichols Middle School, Old Orchard Jr. High School.