During school year 2005-2006, 1,936 students left the Boston Public Schools (BPS) without a diploma. During the 2016-2017 school year, that number fell to 660, resulting in the lowest dropout rate in BPS history.
Now, the challenge is to reduce the dropout rate even further, while reaching out to BPS graduates who are not connected to the labor market or postsecondary education. The PIC organizes two collaborations in pursuit of these objectives— the Youth Transitions Task Force and the Opportunity Youth Collaborative.
In 2004, the Youth Transition Task Force was convened in order to lower the high school dropout rate. An early pilot dropout outreach initiative evolved into the Re-Engagement Center in 2009—a BPS-PIC partnership—that enrolls hundreds of dropouts annually, connecting them with appropriate school placements, both within the BPS and at nonprofit organizations. The REC has now brought over 3,300 students back to school.
In 2013, the PIC and Boston Opportunity Agenda co-convened the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC). The OYC has expanded the re-engagement agenda to include disconnected high school graduates. It is part of a national network of communities developing strategies for engaging opportunity youth —16-24-year-olds who are out of school and out of work.
When Kerlyn Cherizier immigrated to Boston from Haiti in 2014, his education was knocked off track. Despite completing ninth grade in Port au Prince, Kerlyn had to repeat ninth grade twice when he moved to Boston due to his limited English skills.
By the time he was 21, Kerlyn had attended three high schools and still did not have enough credits to graduate. Frustrated with his slow progress, Kerlyn’s attendance started to drop. That’s when his guidance counselor at the Boston Adult Technical Academy (BATA) connected him to the Re-Engagement Center (REC), a partnership between the PIC and the Boston Public Schools. PIC Re-Engagement Specialist Angie Encarnacion helped Kerlyn understand that he was only three classes away from graduation and worked with him to come up with a solution. Kerlyn would finish his classes online at the REC and, this August, he received a BATA high school diploma.
Knowing that graduation was in sight and that the time it would take to complete his last three classes would depend on the effort he was willing to put in, Kerlyn’s outlook changed dramatically. Instead of skipping classes, he began coming to the REC with a positive attitude, taking full advantage of the REC’s blended learning environment and on-site teacher. Meanwhile, he is in his second season as a concession cook for Aramark at Fenway Park, a job he got through the PIC in the spring of 2018. The REC team helps him balance the demands of school, work, and life.