NAF’s Response to High School Graduation Rate Reaching New Record High

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It is excellent news that the graduation rate has reached a record high of 83.2%, but as President Obama clearly stated, “we still have more work to do”.

It is excellent news that the graduation rate has reached a record high of 83.2%, but as President Obama clearly stated, “we still have more work to do”. It is crucial that we ensure opportunity for success for all students – regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic background, and that means we need an all-in approach to ensuring the next generation is ready for what comes after high school graduation.

Graduation is an important milestone, but it is really only the beginning for our young leaders. In order for our nation to produce a diverse, highly skilled workforce to keep up with the demands of the global economy, we need to make strategic connections between education and workforce development. We need leading corporations to invest in their future employees. The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and our investment must begin early on and continue to remain steadfast through a student’s trajectory. The future of our nation’s workforce depends on it. As Nicki Palmer, Senior VP and Chief Network Officer at Verizon, and NAFTrack founding partner says, “Part of the thinking is absolutely that we are trying to address deficiencies that we see in college graduates in technical fields…we need to not just start with college, we need to start at the high school level and NAF’s programs in STEM education. They produce what we’re looking for.”

That’s why NAF created NAFTrack Certified Hiring, a promise to give special consideration to college students and eventual job applicants who, as high school graduates, earned NAFTrack Certification. “A well-trained workforce is the key to closing the skill gap and invigorating our economy ... JPMorgan Chase is so proud to be a founding partner of NAFTrack, as it creates opportunity and supports the next generation of workers.” Chauncy Lennon, Senior Program Director, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and NAFTrack Founding Partner.

“NAFTrack gives us a way to connect our world with [the future leaders of our industries] in a profound and productive manner and ensure those young women and men have the skills needed to succeed,” says Nicki Palmer.

We need to keep aiming for a 100% graduation rate, and more than that, we need to foster opportunities for continued growth to ensure all graduates have their sights on a productive next step. Education and business must continue to join together to provide the tools and resources for students, as they prepare to create the roadmap for their futures. There is strength in numbers and as a result of that investment, we all will succeed.


NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready. NAF’s educational design ignites students’ passion for learning and gives businesses the opportunity to shape America’s future workforce by transforming the learning environment to include STEM –infused, industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences, including internships. Since 1982, NAF has been partnering with existing high schools in high-need communities to enhance school systems at a low cost by implementing NAF academies—small learning communities within traditional high schools. NAF has grown from one NAF Academy of Finance in New York City to hundreds of academies across the country focusing on growing industries including finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. During the 2015–2016 school year, nearly 89,000 students attended 716 NAF academies across 36 states, including DC and the US Virgin Islands. In 2015, NAF academies reported 98% of seniors graduated with 92% of graduates with post-secondary intentions. For more information, please visit

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Courtney Savoia
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