Promising Practices in Working with Young Adults

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Youth Development Institute
122 pages. Bound volume: $35. Nine sections in booklets: $2-$5 each. Download: free.

Help for high school dropouts and potential dropouts appears in this encouraging report from a collaborative group of New York City alternative schools, community organizations, and the City Department of Education, whose pilot programs show increasing graduation rates among “over-age and under-credited” students. Involved in both ventures profiled here, Good Shepherd Services has become a leader in sharing youth-development expertise with public schools.

South Brooklyn Community High School is a small, year-round alternative transfer school for students with few credits. Advocate counselors provide personalized support for students, who take a stake in their own progress, earning credits more quickly than those in traditional schools and passing state exams at a higher rate. Post-graduation planning is emphasized.

Related to the City University of New York, CUNY Prep Transitional High School offers the GED with college as a goal. Students 16 to 18 years old with at least an eighth-grade reading level commit themselves to “real-world learning” in this year-round program. Only 200 students – 95 percent African American and Latino – are enrolled at one time. “They have a social responsibility to go to college,” says the principal, “in the name of uplifting [their] community.” After six months, 40 percent of the students take the GED. Support services continue for a year after graduation.

Four briefs outline practices that contribute to these schools’ success, from a “primary person” as an advocate for each student, to youth-involvement strategies, enlivened academics, and post-graduation planning. Two additional briefs detail how to implement these programs.

Educators and youth workers seeking to improve public schools and ease youths’ school-to-life transitions will be inspired by these models. (646) 943-8829,