During school year 2005-2006, 1,936 students left the Boston Public Schools (BPS) without a diploma. During the 2013-2014 school year, that number fell to 701, 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. By 2016, the REC has brought over 2,500 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.
For the past ten years, Lorraine Trowers has been a consistent and caring presence in Dudley Square at Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) Boston, a division of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. YOU Boston provides a unique combination of intensive case management and career development services to young adults, primarily those who are court-involved and reentering the community from incarceration.
Lorraine, currently the YOU Boston Senior Case Manager, works closely with PIC staff at the Re-Engagement Center (REC). When working with a YOU Boston participant who needs a high school credential, Lorraine walks him or her over to the REC, a few short blocks away. She shares what she knows about the individual’s strengths and needs so that the REC staff can make an appropriate referral to a Boston public high school or alternative program. The trust that Lorraine has established with the young person is critical to the success of this transition.
In addition, Lorraine and other YOU Boston staff have volunteered in the REC’s new door-knocking campaign, reaching out to former BPS students who left school without a diploma. The connection between Lorraine and the PIC runs deep. As a high school student at the O’Bryant, Lorraine worked with her PIC career specialist to secure her internship at State Street Bank. She went on to earn her bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public administration at Suffolk University and a law degree from UMass School of Law. Professionally and personally, Lorraine Trowers represents what education can do for the community.Read Less>