During the 2010-2011 academic year, 12,744 Colorado youth dropped out of high school according to the Colorado Department of Education, a statistic that a new web-based initiative aims to significantly reduce this year at Denver Public Schools (2,292 dropouts), Boulder Valley School District (119 dropouts) and Aurora Public Schools (1,192 dropouts). Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving Colorado’s dropout crisis, today launched Drop In Colorado, a pilot program that provides options and support to reengage at-risk youth who have left school.
Dropouts, ages 14 to 21, can now simply send a text message from their cell phones to connect with the people and resources that will help match them with a school to best suit their needs.
“Even one dropout is too many—our goal is for every student to have a viable path to educational success,” says Steve Dobo, Chief Executive Officer at Colorado Youth for a Change. “The use of cell phones and social media has changed the communications landscape, and to reach youth we need to evolve our approach so we reach them on their turf on their terms. Drop In Colorado is a first-of-its-kind outreach effort in Colorado and nationally that utilizes the same technology that goes into the video games that kids love to play.”
Designed to help dropouts and those hoping to help dropouts re-enroll, the initiative is localized to the three communities it serves and consists of ‘Drop In Denver’, ‘Drop In Boulder’ and ‘Drop In Aurora’. Media, such as posters, flyers, stickers radio, TV and other media encourage out-of-school youth and their influencers to text:
Denver—DropIn3 to 99000 or visit http://www.DropInDenver.com
Boulder—DropIn2 to 99000 or visit http://www.DropInBoulder.com
Aurora—DropIn1 to 99000 or visit http://www.DropInAurora.com
In return, youth or their influencers will receive an encouraging text or email containing a link to an interactive microsite. In the case of dropouts, they are met by a virtual spokesperson who requests basic information:
The spokesperson then walks youth through the available school program types to help get them back on track. Once users see an option they feel is right for them, they click on the “I’m interested” button and their information is sent to CYC outreach specialists who will assist interested youth plus provide year-long follow up to ensure students remain enrolled.
On the other hand, influencers are asked to provide:
A text or email with a link to the Drop In Colorado microsite is then sent to the individual who is being encouraged re-enroll in school.
As part of the City of Denver’s education initiatives, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and his Office for Education and Children have partnered with CYC in support of the Drop In Denver initiative, as evidenced by his State of the City address last month. Initial results for Drop In Denver’s pilot program for the 2012-2013 school year will be tabulated during October count and presented by Mayor Hancock in December at the annual meeting of the 2012 National League of Cities Dropout Re-Engagement Conference being held in Denver. Results for the Drop In Boulder and Drop In Aurora initiatives will also be announced at this time.