This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Project U-Turn, a citywide education collaborative campaign, came together in 2004 to tackle the city’s high dropout rate – with a particular focus on pregnant and parenting teens, adjudicated youth, and children in foster care.
While research indicated that youth in these three categories were a minority of those who left school without graduating, they did drop out at much higher rates than their peers.
In fact, between 70 to 90 percent of these three groups of youth left school without graduating.
Since then, several steps taken to reduce high dropout rates, including an overhaul of the juvenile justice curriculum and the opening of a Re-engagement Center (see Connecting) as well as an Education Support Center in the Department of Human Services, have been developed with an eye to these populations.
Here is a closer look at programs targeted to these categories of students, along with those who have been homeless, to keep them on track to graduation.