CHOICES: Addressing the High School Dropout Epidemic
THE PROBLEM: Every school day 7,000 teens become high school dropouts. Each time a teen drops out, he or she faces a lifetime of challenges and uncertainty, and also forfeits an estimated $260,000 in lifetime earnings compared to high school graduates. But we as a nation also face a lifetime of healthcare, welfare and crime costs for each dropout, as well as lost tax revenues resulting from their lower earnings, which together are estimated at $290,000 per teen. With 7,000 kids dropping out each school day, this means we are incurring future losses of $2 billion every school day that we allow this to continue!
THE WORKSHOP: Into this appalling epidemic steps CHOICES, an interactive decision-making workshop that focuses on keeping teens in school, motivating them toward their education and future, and introducing them to practical life skills to help them succeed. In two fast-paced hour-long sessions, business volunteers take students through real-world exercises on academic self-discipline, time and money management and goal setting. We were started by a Seattle dad that broke through to his troubled teenage son, and 25 years later have served over 6 million teens across the nation through our social enterprise “seeding” delivery model. We currently support more than 150 program sites in 40 states and engage over 1,000 business and community volunteers to serve 100,000 teens per year – that’s more than 500 teens every school day, and we do it at a cost of less than $5 per teen.
THE RESULTS: Students give CHOICES an “approval rating” of 88%, and teachers give it 97%. In a 2007 study investigating changes in student engagement in school, students indicated a 9% increase in appropriate engagement, a 9% decrease in inappropriate engagement and a 9% decrease in non-engagement coincident with CHOICES. Engagement in school has been shown to be a reliable indicator of the probability of on-time high school completion. In a 2009 study of at-risk students, those who participated in CHOICES increased their school engagement 47% more than those who did not, as reported by their teachers. This indicates a strong correlation between participation in CHOICES and positive school engagement.
THE CALL: Turn a teen around today with your time, money and/or other resources. Visit www.choices.org or call 888-CHOICES (888-246-4237). Five dollars can save a teen, and help build a stronger future for us all.