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The mission of Colorado Youth for a Change is to solve the dropout crisis in Colorado, and we have already seen a promising 29% reduction in the state’s dropout numbers over the past six years. We started as a nonprofit in 2005 when there were 18,031 dropouts across the state of Colorado, and 2010-2011 school year shows that 12,744 youth dropped out of school. Because even one dropout is too many, we are committed to continuing this work through thoughtful partnerships, early intervention, late intervention, and an expansion of school options. The unemployment rate for those individuals without a high school diploma is nearly double that of the general public, and those that have dropped out of school are more likely to live in poverty, commit crimes, and become teenage parents.
CYC believes we need a sustained effort with sufficient resources to address the problem. Through a review of the investment of resources at the state and local level being spent on serving at-risk youth, we can start to look at more collaborative approaches such as data sharing, blended funding streams, and more effective and targeted approaches toward a shared youth vision. Additionally, national research is pointing the way towards identifying behavioral characteristics of students - versus just demographics - so that systematic approaches with early warning systems and tiered interventions can be created. CYC works with school districts to analyze data on dropouts - as well as those still in school but substantially behind in credits - in order to design educational programs for our most vulnerable youth.
Colorado Youth for a Change works with community partners to find high school dropouts and works with them on a case by case basis attempting to help them over come the barriers to return to school. CYC believes that once a youth has experienced life as a droput that often they, for the first time, become motivated to return and be successful in school. CYC helps the youths connect with other youths in peer gatherings, connect them with peer mentors, assist in remediation and help them become self-advocates for their own educational opportunities.