Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A local program aimed at keeping kids from dropping out of high school is getting a $300,000 boost after AT&T selects it as part of the company’s Aspire program.
Monique Griego has more on where the money goes.
The money will be used to expand the program, which helps troubled kids get back on track.
For many parents, keeping their kids in school is a major priority.
“It was so important to me,” said Felisha McNeil. “When he was having a little bit of trouble, I even went to school with him and sat in class to make sure he got what he needed.”
Excessively absent students are more likely to drop out and end up in jail. But one line of defense before that happens is the University of Baltimore’s truancy court program.
“We want to contribute to the community and the truancy court helps to do that by intervening in lives of students who are at risk of having trouble with school attendance,” said Ron Weich.
Counselors, social workers and mentors work with eighth- and ninth-grade students and their families to get the kids back in class.
Because of the program’s success, AT&T presented it with a $300,000 check Monday.
“We will have the opportunity to work with more children as a result of this grant,” said Judge David Young.
Program leaders say the money will be used to expand services to more students, increase staff training and add on a social worker.
In Baltimore City, around seven percent of students are habitually truant.
“We understand that families just don’t need punishment, they need support,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The 2011 graduation rate in Maryland was 82 percent. But in Baltimore City that number drops to 65 percent.
Parents hope this money helps get through to more kids.
“Let them know it’s not for us as a parent but it’s for them to have a better future and a better job for themselves,” said McNeil.
Since being created in 2005, the truancy court program has helped 1,000 kids.
In the past, AT&T have also given dropout prevention money to Johns Hopkins and the Center for Social Organization of Schools.