Think to when you were in high school and the stress you felt, both academically and socially. Now imagine if you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from or if you would have a roof over your head, on top of the existing stresses of high school. It’s easy to see how education may take a backseat for students in these life circumstances. United Way is working to remove those added obstacles so homeless and at-risk youth can focus on their education.
The Back on Track program makes it possible for homeless and at-risk high school students to recover missing or unearned credits on a schedule tailored to their needs. Additionally, students are connected to community resources that fill the gaps for necessities such as food and shelter.
Over a two-year period the program has helped 153 students seriously at-risk of dropping out earn their high school diplomas and has opened up opportunities for them to seize a better future.
The Back on Track program was made possible through an AT&T Aspire Grant of $750,000. The grant enabled us to increase the capacity of the AVAIL classroom at Covenant House by adding evening classes provided by the school district to accommodate more youth and support through housing, food, mental health services, and substances abuse counseling. We are currently seeking additional investors for this program.
Second Year Achievements
The Back on Track program was highly successful throughout the 2017-18 school year. 102 students graduated and 398 students received services including non-academic needs assistance which oftentimes makes the difference between receiving a diploma and discontinuing school. 80 of those students were served with 203 community-based supports such as housing, clothing, connection to health care and job placement assistance. These services help students stay the course and set them up for success well into the future. We are excited to begin the new school year invigorated by the students’ accomplishments over the last two years.
First Year Achievements
The expanded Back on Track program had 51 graduates in its first year! Twenty-eight students were from the additional AVAIL class, 8 attended the evening program located at North Star Elementary and 15 more received their diploma during the summer school courses. Kudos to the support team, and the teaching and TA teams at both sites for making it possible for these students to be able to graduate.
Wraparound services are a key part of Back on Track, including assistance with housing, access to medical and vision care, obtaining IDs and birth certificates, and much more. The program serves 9th – 12th grade students from across Anchorage School District who are at high risk of not graduating. In the 2016-17 school year, 268 high school students were served in total, including 199 students who attended summer school. Funding for Back on Track was provided by the AT&T Aspire grant, Anchorage School District, BP and United Way of Anchorage.