The mission of Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC) is to solve the dropout crisis in Colorado.
CYC was founded in 2005 in response to more than 18,000 students dropping out of Colorado schools annually, and we have seen that number of youth dropping out nearly cut in half since our inception. The agency has since grown in size and scope, and works to increase the number of youth who graduate high school or earn a GED through innovative prevention and reengagement services.
Research and experience have contributed to CYC's ongoing strategic expansion of services. Because chronic absenteeism (students attending less than 90% of the time) is so closely linked to dropping out of school, we now place 24 AmeriCorps members in schools to engage these students and hold them accountable when it comes to attendance. We've also expanded our work to include Kindergarten to 3rd grade students who are not reading on grade level. Reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade is another strong indicator of student success; in fact, children are four times more likely to drop out if they are not reading on grade level at this time when they transition from learning to read to reading to learn. (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011). CYC continues to be a leader in student reengagement and is excited to expand its scope through prevention to increase the state's graduation rate.
Goals: Describe the organization's current goals.
CYC's goals are as follows:
1. Provide in-school prevention services to students showing early warning signs of dropping out
2. Reengage youth who have dropped out or disengaged from school and support them in graduating and building pathways toward post-secondary work
People labeled Anthony a troublemaker early in his school career after some mistakes he made in seventh grade. He often felt wrongly accused because of this reputation, and the school even expelled him for his perceived defiance. Once he had left school, he was going to stay away, especially after the death of his close friend. His father was not a part of his life and his mother did her best to support him, but he was just about done with education. Then a friend told him about Futures Academy. The friend told Anthony this school was different and the teachers were supportive. They did not hold your past against you - they just wanted you to succeed. While Anthony was considering his next step, his son Sebastian was born. "I told myself I wouldn't be like my dad, and I would always be there for my son."
Although Anthony was skeptical at first, once he spent time at Futures Academy, he realized what his friend said was true. The Futures staff provided him with the resources and support he had been seeking for a long time. He kept going to class, studying, and started attending classes at Pickens Tech to learn about computer-aided drafting. He did this while working to support his son and himself, managing part time childcare, and helping his mother with his younger siblings. He became the first in his family to go to college. He earned his certificate in AutoCAD and did so well that his teacher encouraged him to help others in the class. Futures has recognized him as a model student and he recently spoke on a panel to help other students who are considering college. He stayed connected to his uncle, who also got into a lot of trouble but was a big influence in Anthony's life and godfather to his son, and they have challenged each other to get their GEDs. He is a great dad and continues to work hard each day. Anthony has plans to take his willingness to help others further and hopes someday to be a teacher. According to Anthony, "Futures gave me a fresh start. They were there for whatever I needed. If I was down, they helped pick me up. They gave me opportunities I never thought possible."