United Way, Stay in School to Host Community Summit on Nov. 6

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley and Stay in School, a community initiative launched by United Way designed to increase student attendance in Springfield schools, will host the Springfield GradNation Community Summit 2014, a conference for youth, parents, and members of the community, on Thursday, Nov. 6 from 3 to 7:30 p.m. in the Judd Gymnasia at Springfield College, 263 Alden St., Springfield.

The summit’s focus is “middle school success = pathway to graduation.” Educators say better school attendance and engagement in middle school leads to higher high-school graduation rates. Summit leaders will share what they have learned from youth, parents, educators, and the community, with a call to action to become part of the solution to increase the graduation rate in Springfield. Youth and community panels will take part in the conference. The event will be preceded by a pre-summit luncheon for Springfield community and business leaders.

Michael Smith, former director of the Social Innovation Fund for the Corp. for National & Community Service and senior director of Cabinet Affairs for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, will be the keynote speaker. Smith is a Springfield native. The Stay in School campaign was launched in 2013 in partnership with the Springfield Public Schools to increase school attendance, which is a key ingredient to academic success and graduation from high school.

Those interested in attending the summit should RSVP to Shyreshia Perry at sperry@uwpv.org or (413) 737-2691, ext. 200. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required to attend the conference. A light meal and refreshments will be served.

Recently, Springfield Public Schools announced the four-year high school graduation rate had improved to 56.6%. The goal of the Stay in School initiative is to increase the local graduation rate to 77.4% by the year 2015. The GradNation campaign was launched in 2010 by America’s Promise Alliance. The campaign consists of 100 dropout-prevention community summits convened across the country to raise awareness and inspire action. America’s Promise Alliance has adopted a goal of raising the national average to 90% by 2020.

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