Leaders Unite to Celebrate Progress in Ending the Dropout Crisis in the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit

Stories of Success from Around the Country to be Highlighted and New National Graduation Data Released

  • America's Promise Alliance
    America's Promise Alliance
    America's Promise Alliance
    America's Promise Alliance
  • Civic Enterprises
    Civic Enterprises
    Civic Enterprises
    Civic Enterprises
  • Everyone Graduates Center
    Everyone Graduates Center
    Everyone Graduates Center
    Everyone Graduates Center

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The America’s Promise Alliance (America’s Promise), Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises, and Everyone Graduates Center today announced that the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit will be held March 18-21 in Washington, DC. The annual event brings together national and local leaders in education, politics, business, media, nonprofits and research to celebrate progress and discuss the remaining challenges in the nation’s efforts to end the high school dropout crisis. More than 1,000 attendees, including close to 150 youth leaders, from around the country are registered to attend.

Premier Sponsors include Grad Nation Presenting Sponsor, State Farm ®, along with AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Target. Signature Sponsors are Apollo Group, Casey Family Programs, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Intel Corporation, Lumina Foundation, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Pearson Foundation.

“This annual summit is the premier event of our Grad Nation Campaign and a time when we can come together and assess how we’re doing in our work to keep our young people in school,” said Alma J. Powell, chair, America’s Promise Alliance. “There is a lot of progress underway that we can celebrate and learn from, however we know now is not the time to become complacent because we are still losing one out of every four youth and nearly one out of every two African-American and Hispanic youth to this crisis. Our work will not end until all our children in this country find a path to achieve their full potential.”

The three-day event at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel will kick-off on March 18 with a pre-conference for youth leaders and continue on March 19 with opening remarks from Mrs. Powell, Director of the White House National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and a special announcement from AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will also welcome attendees on March 19 and moderate a panel discussion on school improvement grants. America’s Promise Founding Chairman General Colin Powell and George Lucas, filmmaker and chairman of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, will deliver the closing luncheon remarks on March 20.  All these sessions will be webcast live at: www.americaspromise.org/summit.

The latest Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic  report will be released on March 19.  Findings from this highly anticipated annual report, which showcases the latest national graduation rate data, including the current number of dropout factories —those schools graduating 60 percent or less of students on time – will be unveiled. The new report reveals that the number of dropout factory high schools continued to decline between 2009 and 2010 and made significant improvements in graduation rates between 2002 and 2010.

“The good news is that some states have made improvements in their graduation rates, showing it can be done. But the data also indicate that if we are to meet our national goals by 2020, we will have to accelerate our rate of progress, particularly in the states that have shown little progress,” said Robert Balfanz, director of Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University, and co-author of Building a Grad Nation report.

Discussions and sessions on key topics such as the role of innovation in school reform, increasing access to and affordability of post-secondary education for underserved populations, school transformation, early childhood education, and using data to raise student achievement will also take place. These sessions will feature national leaders such as: former DC schools chancellor and founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee, Jon Schnur of America Achieves, Jose Antonio Tijerino of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Dr. Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University and Aimee Guidera of the Data Quality Campaign among many others.   A special Planning for the New Majority session on March 19 moderated by Telemundo’s Jose Diaz Balart will examine the implications of the latest census figures showing a demographic shift in America with a growing minority population and what that means for education policies and systems.

“Many of America's leading institutions -- from public media to the United Way -- are ramping up their efforts to align with the Civic Marshall Plan of action to meet national goals,” said Civic Enterprises CEO, John Bridgeland. “With the support of these innovative organizations as well as businesses and community organizations alike, school districts across the country and many states -- such as Tennessee and New York -- continue to beat the odds and challenge others to so the same, despite tough economic challenges.”

The intersection between a quality education and a strong economy will be highlighted throughout the summit. This includes a special panel discussion on March 20 on the role of business in supporting education innovation and reform moderated by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that includes Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, DeVry President and CEO Daniel Hamburger, Chief Executive Officer of CVS Caremark Corporation Larry Merlo and others. This discussion will conclude with an overview of the latest data on the economic impact of the high school dropout crisis.

“For the individual and the nation as a whole, the best economic stimulus is a diploma,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “With a high school diploma, individuals will earn more than their counterparts who drop out. Those additional earnings aren’t going under a mattress—they will be put to good use in local communities, purchasing groceries, clothing, and boosting the local economy.”

Summit attendees will hear successful case studies from more than a dozen communities across the nation, including Houston, TX; Gwinnett County, GA; and Cincinnati, OH. They will also participate in sessions with some of the nation’s most highly regarded practitioners and thought leaders on the following topics: third grade reading; expanded learning opportunities; special challenges facing foster care, homeless and military youth; education legislative landscape; teacher quality; STEM; disconnected youth; rural youth and sustaining important youth programs in tough economic times. The full summit agenda with a list of all speakers can be found at: www.americaspromise.org/summit

On March 21,  about 200 summit attendees will meet with their Congressional representatives to discuss dropout prevention and supporting the Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, now a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis. The goal of Grad Nation is to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.


America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. We bring together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofit groups, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, America’s Promise believes the success of young people is grounded in Five Promises: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. For more information, visit www.americaspromise.org.

 The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. It focuses on America’s six million most at-risk secondary school students—those in the lowest achievement quartile—who are most likely to leave school without a diploma or to graduate unprepared for a productive future. mhoot@civicenterprises.net

Civic Enterprises is a public policy firm that helps corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities and governments develop and spearhead innovative public policies to strengthen our communities and country. Created to enlist the private, public and nonprofit sectors to help address our Nation’s toughest problems, Civic Enterprises fashions new initiatives and strategies that achieve measurable results in the fields of education, civic engagement, economic mobility, and many other domestic policy issues. For information about Civic Enterprises, please visit www.civicenterprises.net.

The Everyone Graduates Center, part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, seeks to identify the barriers to high school graduation, develop strategic solutions to overcoming these barriers and build local capacity to implement and sustain the solutions so that all students graduate prepared for adult success. For more information about Everyone Graduates Center, visit www.every1graduates.org.



Colleen Wilber

202.657.0647 or colleenw@americaspromise.org


Jason Amos

202.828.0828 or jamos@all4ed.org


Mary Maushard              

410.516.8810 or mmaushard@jhu.edu 


Megan Hoot

202.898.9387 or mhoot@civicenterprises.net