"Jacksonville’s success as a city depends on the success of our children and young people,” said Mayor Brown. “Education is key to that success. We must have high expectations for our kids, and we must provide them with the support they need to meet and exceed those expectations. This summit is an opportunity for all of us to work together to ensure the success of the next generation.”
Mayor Brown and the City of Jacksonville will welcome Alma Powell, chair of America’s Promise Alliance, as the keynote speaker at the summit’s opening.
“What is good for young people is good for Jacksonville and good for America,” said Powell. “Becoming a GradNation is about much more than better schools; it requires an entire community taking responsibility for the wellbeing of its children. We must invest in their future properly to ensure all of our prosperity.”
The summit will serve as a catalyst for developing a community action plan to ensure that all students in Jacksonville graduate from high school ready for the workforce or college. The action plan will seek to measure progress in areas such as early childhood education, literacy and grade-level reading, mentoring and support for at-risk middle school students, and increasing African-American male achievement. The plan will also include additional efforts to prepare high school students for success in the workforce and in college.
The summit will feature other nationally recognized speakers, including Dr. Howard C. Stevenson, a professor of education and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center and a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
Jacksonville’s summit is part of a series of 100 summits to be held around the country through 2016. The summits are co-sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance as part of the GradNation Campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.
Jacksonville is hosting a GradNation Community Summit as part of Mayor Brown’s Education Initiatives, a series of coordinated programs. These include Mayor’s Mentors, which pairs trained volunteers to provide support to at-risk middle school students, and Learn2Earn, which provides a week of college immersion at local universities to high school students who would be the first in their families to attend college.
In 2013, Mayor Brown hosted an education summit featuring an appearance by Dr. Bill Cosby that focused on increasing parental involvement in Duval County schools.
The 2013 Building a GradNation report
found that for the first time, the nation is on track to meet the goal of 90 percent national graduation rate by the class of 2020. The report found the national high school graduation rate increased 6.5 percentage points since 2001 with an average growth of 1.25 percentage points each year from 2006-2010 to its current rate of 78.2 percent.
In Jacksonville, 72 percent of teens graduate from high school in four years, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. Statewide, 75 percent of high school students graduate in four years.
“The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people," said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the event in Jacksonville are rallying points for communities. America's Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Jacksonville and communities across the country to help advance this campaign.”
The work of America’s Promise Alliance is focused on helping increase access to five academic, health and life resources, known as the “Five Promises” – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others. Research shows that with these critical supports at home, in school and in the community, children are more likely to achieve academically, socially and civically.
Summit attendees will use these Promises as a framework for how Jacksonville can better align programs supporting and serving youth.
The premier sponsor of the national GradNation Community Summits campaign is AT&T, whose support is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to graduate more students from high school ready for college and career.
“The business community has a huge stake in this issue, and working with educators, parents and nonprofits at the local level is the best way to ensure we stay on track. Our collective future depends on it, and it will take all of us working together to achieve it,” commented Heather Duncan, regional director of external affairs for AT&T.
Other national summit sponsors include the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, Ford Foundation, DeVry Foundation, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Graduation Alliance, Southwest Airlines, and the Apollo Group.
Locally, the title sponsor of the Jacksonville GradNation Community Summit is Florida Blue, with a $25,000 contribution to the event. The Florida Blue Foundation has also offered an additional $25,000 matching grant to encourage support of the summit from other companies, bringing the company’s combined support to a total of $50,000.
“Curiosity is the flame that lights the way for learning,” said Darnell Smith, North Florida Market President of Florida Blue. “A great education is the fuel for this flame, which is why we support this summit that prepares young people for success.”
The PGA Tour and Siemens are also local sponsors of the Jacksonville Summit. For more information about the Jacksonville Summit and to learn how to get involved, visit www.coj.net/edsummit
About America’s Promise Alliance
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 GradNation 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 the Five Promises—Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others. For more information, visit AmericasPromise.org.
About Florida Blue Foundation
The Florida Blue Foundation, formerly the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. The Foundation and its parent are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.bluefoundationfl.com