In the midst of COVID-19 during the Fall of 2020, an assistant principal at a local high school in Lawrenceville, Georgia, sent out an email distress call about a group of 25 ninth graders he was concerned about. Where online school had made things nearly impossible for half of his school’s student body, this group of more than two dozen students was in danger of watching distance learning end their academic careers.
Dropping out of high school is catastrophic to a young person’s life. High school dropouts account for 67% of inmates in state prisons and 56% in federal prisons, and they depend on government assistance at much higher levels than graduates do. Between the costs society pays for high school dropouts and the loss of their potential earning and spending capacity, a city cannot afford to do nothing when students lose their way. 25 students dropping out of high school launches 25 separate stories of young men and women having to wrestle, scrape, and grind just to find jobs and build lives while avoiding unemployment and the temptation of turning to at-risk behaviors to cope with feelings of hopelessness.
The assistant principal’s call for help was answered by a community leader named Allen Hoskyn. Hoskyn has given his energies over much of the past decade to gathering and building relationships between Lawrenceville government, non-profit, and church leaders in hopes that they could come together to fight for the young people of their community. He took the administrator’s email and forwarded it to anyone he thought would care. Within a few weeks, he had arranged for a series of online meetings of more than a dozen community leaders.
In these meetings, an action plan was laid out where:
- Local churches and community partners recruited volunteers to come together on Saturday, February 6 at First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville (FUMCLV). After being trained by Boy With a Ball on family engagement, they deployed in seven teams to head to student's houses in order to meet their families. Each team went out with the goal to introduce themselves and begin to build relationships. The goal of these teams is that they will return every couple of weeks, continuing to build relationships and doing everything possible to help the students regain their footing in school.
- On Thursday, February 11, the students were invited to an afternoon of activities led by Boy With a Ball’s Velocity staff. The goal was to introduce the student's to Velocity, with the hope that as many as possible would sign up for their school's own launch of the program. Velocity is a life-changing, developmental after-school mentoring program that specifically serves and develops high school students. After a few hours together, the students' parents joined us for a dinner to continue the process of weaving the school, the students, and the families together in order to build deeper relationships and fight for these young peoples' futures.
We face a moment where 1.5 billion students across the world have had their education interrupted by COVID-19. Millions of students are pouring into the workforce prematurely and the result could be catastrophic (Read the #NoLostGeneration White Paper here). Boy With a Ball teams and partners just like you are working within their neighborhoods to do anything and everything possible to help, like the wonderful story of the Changemakers program in the Kawangware slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
Great heroes rise in moments of great need, and we are filled with indomitable hope for how everyday people will emerge to do extraordinary things in this crisis.
If you are interested in finding your place in this fight, please contact us by clicking here.