Academic Achievement Initiative

Academic Achievement through Mentoring Initiative

The Initiative

At the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, White House Faith Based Initiative Director Joshua DuBois announced there are 2,000 low performing schools in the United States located in 170 communities around the country. To see graduation rates of a high school in your community, access the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Promoting Power database. Promoting power is a good indicator of high schools’ graduation rates. If your local high school has a promoting power of less than 60 percent, it is very likely that it will have an unacceptably low graduation rate by state and national standards.

America's dropout rates are an unprecedented challenge in U.S. history—dropout rates and the lack of academic achievement is worse than ever with teen violence, pregnancies, drugs and crime more prevalent than ever before.

Drop Out Crisis Statistics

  • 1.3 million students drop out of high school each year;
  • One third of all children – and half of low income and minority youth – fail to graduate on time;
  • Only 10% of students who enroll in college graduate; and
  • Only 3% of 21st Century jobs are available for unskilled employees.

The Economic Impact

  • If the dropouts from the class of 2009 graduated, an additional $319 billion in wages, taxes and productivity over their working lives would have been generated;
  • If the entire 2009 class graduated, our nation could save $174 billion in healthcare costs; and
  • If the graduation rate of male students increased by 5%, the nation would gain $7.7 billion in crime related savings

A Solution

MENTOR, BBBS and Mentoring USA have joined together to launch Academic Achievement Through Mentoring – an initiative designed to connect mentors with young people in 170 communities that comprise the 2,000 lowest performing schools in the U.S.

Mentoring is a youth development strategy that naturally supports the goal of reducing the dropout rate. Research has shown mentoring to have significant positive effects of two early indicators of high school dropouts—high levels of absenteesim1 and recurring behavior problems2. Youth in mentoring relationships present better attitudes and behaviors at school and are more likely to attend college than their counterparts. Dropping out of school is a culmination of a long process of disengagement. Children between the ages of 12 through 17 are within the developmental stage most able to best absorb and benefit from the skills of a mentor.

Get Involved—Be a Mentor

  • View the list of 170 communities where the 2,000 lowest performing schools are located (ZIP codes are included in the 170 communities document).
  • Enter the zip code in the "Become a Mentor" box to find mentoring programs within that school's zip code radius.



1 Kennelly, L., & Monrad, M. (2007). "Approaches to dropout prevention: Heeding early warning signs with appropriate interventions." Washington, D.C.: National High School Center, American Institutes for Research.

2 Thurlow, M. L., Sinclair, M. F., & Johnson, D. R. (2002). "Students with disabilities who drop out of school—Implications for policy and practice." Issue Brief, 1(2). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.