For East Palo Alto students, high school graduation rates have historically hovered around 50 percent, and few efforts have changed that percentage over the years. But a small program launched in June is making a difference — and the results are noticeable.
In February, San Mateo County received a federal grant from the Department of Justice to fight truancy in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park’s Belle Haven neighborhood. Students With Amazing Goals was launched in June — a collaboration between county officials, educators and community members to provide support to those students most at risk of dropping out of high school.
Students With Amazing Goals works with students that other anti-truancy programs would deem hopeless cases: kids who are truant for more than ten percent of the school year and currently lack the credits to graduate, according to Bob Hoover, the program’s director. The program provides one-on-one after-school tutoring, college admissions counseling and sports programs to 80 at-risk students.
The program is making a huge difference, according to the students themselves. Many have brought their GPAs up from failing to honor-roll status and are in the midst of applying to college. In the six months since its inception, Students With Amazing Goals is transforming the hopes and futures of students in East Palo Alto.