Arizona Mayors Awarded Grant To Improve High School Graduation Rates

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Coalition of Mayors Receives Grant To Support the Sharing of Data and Best Practices That Address State Education Challenges; Become Model for Other States

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(Phoenix, AZ, March 25, 2016)—The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable (AZMRT), an initiative of WestEd—a nonprofit research organization promoting national improvements to our education system—received one of three $200,000 grants from the America’s Promise Alliance and Pearson. The award is tied to a new report released by the Roundtable, “Arizona Mayors’ Education Dashboards,” which shows the state will face disastrous consequences if Arizona fails to increase the number of young people that graduate from our high schools.

“This report is a must-read for policymakers, education leaders and mayors in our state and across the country,” said Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona and chair of the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable. “It is time for us to act decisively. The report shows one in five young people in Arizona has not completed high school—with an estimated 18,100 youths failing to graduate in 2012.”

The GradNation State Activation grants are given to organizations committed to ensuring that more young people graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workforce. The grant will help connect mayors across Arizona with key data and with the means to share evidence-based practices and program strategies, both statewide and throughout the United States. This initiative will help address the key challenges facing all students. In addition to the funding from America’s Promise, the AZMRT is generously funded by the Helios Education Foundation and Arizona Community Foundation.

“Increasing graduation rates for our high school students, both in Arizona and across the country, is crucial to ensuring that young people have bright futures ahead of them and for strengthening our economy,” said Paul H. Koehler, director of WestEd’s Policy Center and coordinator of its Mayors Roundtable program. “The high dropout rates in Arizona means that too many young people are not prepared to succeed, and our national and state economy will suffer as a result. The 16 mayors across the state are committed to changing this metric.”

The data released in the report from AZMRT shows, at the current dropout rate, the resulting lifetime economic losses to Arizona—including decreased earnings and increased state spending on health, crime and public assistance—will amount to as much as $7.6 billion for each graduating class. This equates to economic losses of $421,280 per individual dropout over a lifetime.

In addition to quantifying the economic impact of the high school dropout rate in Arizona, the report shows the losses projected for specific Arizona cities, including, Avondale, Gilbert, Goodyear, Mesa, Oro Valley, Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson. The full report can be viewed here.

About the Arizona Mayors Roundtable
The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, a WestEd initiative, brings together mayors of Arizona’s larger cities, district superintendents and their key staff to share data, evidence-based and promising practices and programmatic strategies that can help address local challenges affecting students’ educational and career success. The Roundtable is convened by WestEd and funded with core support by Helios Education Foundation.

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