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South Side Education News & Notes

7/2/2009 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Juniors aim for college at Summer Academy

SUMMIT COUNTY — Destination College has expanded to include five high schools this summer, up from two, and doubled the number of students involved, thanks to a grant from the Akron Community Foundation awarded to the Summit Education Initiative (SEI) for the two-week intensive Summer Academy set for July 6-17.

The Summer Academy at The University of Akron will host the Class of 2010, consisting of 73 students from Akron’s East and Garfield school clusters, as well as from Coventry Township, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge schools.

“The Summer Academy is designed for students to build math skills and reading comprehension, learn strategies in taking the ACT and explore career pathways that exist locally that require two- or four-year degrees,” according to Diettra Engram, program manager for SEI, the sponsoring organization for Destination College.

The reading component is new this summer and was added when developers of Destination College agreed this was an area of need after looking at the ACT scores and listening to students talk about their difficulty focusing while they read. 

The career exploration component is also new, with four local corporations — Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Summa Health System, Akron Children’s Hospital and FirstEnergy Corp. — agreeing to work as mentors with Destination College students.

According to a 2006 study, Reclaiming the American Dream, done by The Bridgespan Group, a major factor that leads to students pursuing postsecondary education is understanding that the postsecondary degree is needed to pursue the career the student wants.

“They are helping build aspirations and providing exposure to careers by recruiting mentors to work with these students throughout their senior year,” said Engram of the mentor companies.

After the Summer Academy, the students will take part in math camp in September, their second ACT in October, work on college applications and federal financial-aid forms that must be completed by early February, as well as scholarship essays that need to be written.

Last year, all 34 Destination College graduates were accepted in a postsecondary school, according to SEI officials. 

“We’re all very proud of how it has helped students over the past four years make the transition,” said Judy Hummel, Ph.D., SEI executive director. “Now with the new components, we are more confident that these young people will be ready for postsecondary education and for careers here in Akron and Summit County.”

Online forecaster shows how community would improve if education outcomes rise

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A year ago, United Way of America laid out an education goal to cut in half the number of high-school dropouts during the next decade. Here in Summit County, the local United Way has joined the effort by promoting school-readiness programs.

A new interactive Web tool — The Common Good Forecaster™ — allows one to forecast how things might change in the community if educational outcomes were to improve.

In partnership with the American Human Development Project, the United Way created the forecaster to show the ripple effects of people’s educational attainment on their health, financial stability, children’s academic performance and community involvement.

According to the United Way of Summit County (UWSC), some of the statistics on the current state of our education system include:

• Nationally, more than 26 percent of the nation’s young adults do not graduate on time.

• Young adults in the United States are less likely than their parents to earn a diploma — a phenomenon not shared by any other industrialized country in the world.

• A high school graduate will earn on average 74 percent more over a lifetime than a high school dropout.

• Those who earn a diploma are 15 percent more likely to be employed than their peers who drop out.

The forecaster goes beyond linking education to economic returns, but also to the social returns like public safety, low birth weight and voting.

The Common Good Forecaster is free and available to the public at www.liveunited.org/ forecaster.

“Here in Summit County, we’ve put our stake in the ground trying to ensure that children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten,” said UWSC President Bob Kulinski. “Study after study shows that kids who enter school prepared to learn are much more likely to excel and thrive. And children who are succeeding in and enjoying school are more likely to graduate.”

    — By Stephanie Kist

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