Savannah Community Conversation and GradNation Community Summit Focus on Opportunities for Middle School Youth

Two-part event explores challenges facing local middle school students and discusses how afterschool programs and other resources are key solutions for keeping youth on the right track

Savannah, Ga. - September 16, 2014 - Local leaders, educators, faith-based organizations, parents, students and community members convened today for a "community conversation" focused on improving afterschool learning opportunities for middle school youth in Savannah. Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson led the event at the Savannah Trade and Convention Center, which was organized with help from the National League of Cities, America's Promise Alliance and the U.S. Department of Education.

"It's wonderful to see the strong commitment from community members to support the city's middle school youth by promoting afterschool learning opportunities to help them succeed," said National League of Cities President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minn. "I want to thank Mayor Jackson for her dedication to improving educational outcomes for Savannah's youth, and to our partners who helped make today's event a success."

The community conversation's goal was to improve the quality, quantity and access to afterschool learning opportunities for the city's middle school students. Mayor Jackson announced the formation of a taskforce to further address this issue by conducting a review of afterschool opportunities in the city, creating a program locator for parents and youth to find programs and organizing convenings with local philanthropies and businesses to discuss funding opportunities to support increase afterschool programming.

This event is in conjunction with the America's Promise Alliance's GradNation Community Summit in Savannah to be held on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. The Summit, which is part of the GradNation Campaign to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, will focus on the needs of middle school students, working directly with youth and their parents to provide resources that will help them successfully navigate through school towards high school graduation and beyond.

"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 this event in Savannah are rallying points for communities. America's Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Savannah and communities across the country to help advance this campaign."

Today's community conversation is one of a series of similar events held around the country resulting from a "memorandum of understanding" signed by the National League of Cities and the Department of Education in March. The conversations focus on early childhood education, afterschool learning and postsecondary success, and explore ways that cities are working to close the achievement gap and increase student outcomes, including non-academic outcomes such as social-emotional skills.

The GradNation Community Summit on September 23, co-sponsored by America's Promise Alliance, is part of 100 that will be held around the country through 2016. Each community hosting a summit uses its convening to create greater awareness, engagement and coordinated action around increasing high school graduation rates - all leading to better outcomes for local young people.

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About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org

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.

Contact for National League of Cities:
Tom Martin
202-626-3186
martin@nlc.org

Contact for America's Promise Alliance:
Daria Hall
718-404-7448
dariah@americaspromise.org