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5 Questions With... Esther Berg

by Esther Berg
September 6, 2013
Esther Rege Berg is the vice president of stakeholder initiatives for America’s Promise Alliance where she focuses on special projects and coordinates communications with partners, communities, funders and other audiences, as well as edits America’s Promise newsletters. She also leads the Communications Advisory Group, a body of high-level communications professionals, representing America’s Promise Alliance partners.

Can you tell us about the work you do with 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 a diverse network of more than 400 national organizations, representing every sector of society focused on helping children and youth receive the resources they need and deserve. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce.

Your #GradNation movement aims to end the dropout crisis in America. What are some of the implications of the current dropout rate?

A high school diploma matters to individuals, communities, and society. High school graduates are more likely to be employed, make higher taxable income, and aid in job generation. For example, had the nation already reached our 90% goal, the additional graduates from a single class would have increased GDP by an estimated $6.6 billion annually and increased annual local, state, and federal tax revenue by $1.8 billion. Business leaders report difficulty in finding enough qualified employees with the skills, training and education to meet their companies’ needs. If the dropouts in each class were reduced by half, 54,000 new jobs would be created.

Your organization has declared September “Attendance Awareness Month.” Why?

We recognize that school attendance is a vital part of achieving the Grad Nation goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020, with no school graduating less than 80 percent of its students.

The work of America’s Promise is focused on helping more young people have access to the Five Promises—resources that research has shown are crucial to their development—Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others. Young people who receive more of the Five Promises are more likely to graduate high school. Regular school attendance is a key component of helping youth graduate.

Next Tuesday, Sept. 10, America’s Promise Alliance is hosting the #SchoolEveryDay Twitter chat, from 1 PM to 2 PM EST. What can we expect from the chat?

Together with our Attendance Awareness Campaign partners, you can hear from experts from Attendance Works and the Alliance for Excellent Education, who will answer questions about chronic absence and policy issues surrounding attendance. Additionally, communities participating in Attendance Awareness Month will share some of their plans and recent successes during this inaugural campaign.

What can we as a country do to help America’s Promise Alliance achieve the goals of Grad Nation?

In addition to joining the Attendance Awareness Campaign, you can visit www.americaspromise.org/act to find out how to learn more, share information in your communities and networks, volunteer locally, advocate for young people, or otherwise support the Grad Nation campaign.

Alma Powell, Board Chair of America’s Promise Alliance, is a featured guest speaker at IRA’s International Literacy Day celebration this coming Monday, Sept. 9, and @AmericasPromise is a partner in our “Invent Your Future” Twitter chat that evening, at 8 PM EST. Join us using the hashtag #IRAchat.

© 2013 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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