Now in its 11th year, the Stay in School initiative has helped thousands of Chicago Public School students excel.

Exelon, ComEd and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago created the initiative to fight the city’s dropout and truancy rates in various Chicago Public Schools. Since its inception, Stay in School and its six community partners have effectively helped over 25,000 students ages 11 and up. The initiative’s 2015-16 Report Card revealed that 92 percent of students who actively participated in the Stay in School programs were excelling and eligible for graduation.

The survey included 692 students who participated most intensively in Stay in School programs and found that 91 percent of students had at least a 90 percent attendance rate, up from the prior year’s 77.8 percent. In the group, 92 percent of high school seniors were eligible for graduation and 98 percent of students in other grades were eligible for grade promotion.

This progress, Stay in School says, is attributed to using a holistic approach to curriculum and programming which a range of activities that include tutoring, social services, development of pro-social behaviors, parent involvement classes, a reward and recognition program, mentoring and a skills-building workshop.

Stay in School’s community partners help in this effort, including B.U.I.L.D. Inc., Corazon Community Services, Gary Comer Youth Center, Project: VISION, Young Men’s Educational Network’s, and Youth & Opportunity United.

Stay in School’s high school afterschool programs are within the areas of the city that need the most help, choosing neighborhoods where school dropout rates are among the highest, including Austin, Humboldt Park/West Town, Bridgeport, Cicero, North Lawndale and Grand Crossing.

“The students we serve through the Stay in School program have not always been given the resources and opportunities they deserve,” said Steve Solomon, president of the Exelon Foundation. “For the past 11 years, Exelon and its partners have worked to give students the support they need to help their education and prepare for the future. We are so proud of what the students have been able to accomplish.”

Exelon and ComEd employees also volunteer as one-on-one Stay in School mentors, working with students to build career skills such as resume writing, networking, and interviewing. Additionally, more than 200 employees have donated their time to the community partners by participating in mentoring workshops, special events at their schools, summer community service projects, renovation and landscaping projects, student recognition events and cultural events.

“Working with Stay in School mentors, I got help building up my self-confidence and career advice from the real world,” North Park University student Chenelle Somerville said. “Before this program, I didn’t know if I was going to graduate high school. Now, I just started my second year of college, and I plan to pursue my master’s in communications. I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”

Participating schools:

Erie Elementary Charter School, Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy, George Leland Elementary School, Michele Clark Academy Prep Magnet High School, Kelvyn Park High School, Wells Community Academy, Morton Freshman Center, Morton East High School, Gary Comer College Prep, Baker College Prep, Brooks College Prep, Butler College Prep, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, University of Chicago Woodlawn Charter, Kenwood Academy High School, South Shore International College Preparatory High School, Albert G. Lane Technical High School, UIC College Prep, Marie S. Curie Metropolitan High School, William Jones College Preparatory High School, Kenwood Academy High School, Thomas Kelly High School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep High School, George Westinghouse College Prep, North Lawndale College Prep, Little Village High School, DRW Trading College Prep, Chicago Bulls College Prep, Whitney Young High School, Crane Medical Preparatory High School, Evanston Township High School, Chute Middle School, King Arts School, Lincoln Jr. High School, Nichols Middle School, Old Orchard Jr. High School

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