ENGAGE

[In-gaj] - to occupy, attract, or involve someone's interest or attention

Framing the WHY:

Why we must ENGAGE

Research tells us that the path to the workforce begins in the middle grades. For example, 8th grade students who believe that their desired career requires a college education are more likely to complete college, and students who express interest in a STEM career at this age are more likely to graduate with a STEM degree (Bedsworth, Colby, and Doctor 2006; Tai et al. 2006). On the other hand, students who go off track in middle school often struggle to recover; 6th grade students who attended school less than 80% of the time, received a poor final behavior mark, or failed math or English had less than a 25% chance of graduating from high school (Balfanz 2009). By focusing on middle school, we capitalize on this critical developmental period and inflection point, effectively setting students' sights on high school graduation and college matriculation, while building their skills and networks so that they can reach those goals.

We live in an America that is not equal for all.  We have schools a mile apart with 11% low income students versus 99% low income students. The median wealth of single white men under the age of 35 is 14.6 times greater than that of single Black men, and 224.2 times greater than that of single Black women. While high school graduation rates have increased, there is still a 28% difference between those that are white and their black counterparts. Generations of systemic inequalities have created too few of our nation's children the opportunity to thrive.  The future work landscape in the United States is uncharted with opportunities that will demand new talents and skills. Yet, the majority of our students lack the opportunities and networks needed to thrive in this shifting landscape. 

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