The urgency of encouraging participation in higher education in the Philadelphia area is a priority of Cheyney University for the 2010-2011 year. CU will expand its focus to include adopting at least one high school, mounting a more aggressive media campaign, and working with churches, and other social agencies. CU's goal is to bring more attention, resources and help to this significant shortcoming. The target audience includes first generation college students, low income families, and students of color. CU's focus builds upon their Call Me MISTER program established in 2007 to encourage African American males to become K-12 teachers in urban school districts. Last year Call Me MISTER adopted the Chester Charter Community School. Twenty MISTERs are in the pipeline to become Pennsylvania teachers. Five students are Philadelphia public and charter school teachers.
This year, CU will adopt Academy Park High School in SE Delaware County. Academy Park, which serves 1,299 students, was cited by the State for not making Adequate Yearly Progress. The adoption will mesh with the Southeast Delco School District's Strategic Plan (http://www.sedelco.org/strategic_plan.php) and will include:
- Inviting students to campus events
- Pairing CU and high school students for mentoring
- Promoting the successes of our high school students to the local communities
- Designing college-readiness seminars/workshops for students and families
- Determining indicators, such as increased graduation and college-going rates, to measure success
Cheyney University will focus the global commitment on reducing the drop-out rate and increasing the college going rate by 1) increasing college awareness via CU students, 2) promoting the success of college students at Academy High School, 3) recruiting alumni to work with the project and the high school students, 4) keeping records on intervention strategies for use on a larger scale, and 5) employing media, including web, print, and social networking, to convey positive outcomes.
In a February 15, 2010 article published by PHENND (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for
Neighborhood Development), it was reported that '[n] the Philadelphia metropolitan area, an estimated 16,400 students dropped out from the Class of 2008 at great cost not only to themselves but also to their communities. A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education states that reducing the number of dropouts by 50 percent for this single high school class would result in tremendous economic benefits to the Philadelphia region. The Philadelphia metropolitan area, which includes Philadelphia and 11 surrounding counties, is home to 196 high schools. Forty-one of these are considered 'dropout factories' where fewer than 60 percent of freshmen progress to their senior year on time. Twenty-three percent of high school students in the region do not graduate on time with a regular diploma?'
Cheyney University, America's oldest historically Black institution of higher education deeply rooted in teacher training, seeks to have a positive influence on this high-risk group of students by committing to adopt a local high school and encouraging and mentoring these students; as well as, showing students the benefits of a college education. Cheyney University's hope is that the positive publicity from this adopt-a-school campaign will also encourage other universities to do the same.
Cheyney University will maintain data to determine how it influenced the behavior of students in the school it is mentoring.