The Fine Print Behind a Good Idea

Middle School students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School publish their own school newspaper with help from The Paper Project

Middle School students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School publish their own school newspaper with help from The Paper Project

Almost 40% of DC high school students will not graduate. Just let that sink in.

DC’s high school graduation rates are among the lowest in the country. This has critical implications in the fight for healthy communities and a poverty-free future. By 2018, individuals without a high school diploma will only qualify for 10% of available jobs according to a study by Georgetown University. Boosting high school graduation rates is one of the best ways to broaden the career horizons and build healthy communities.

That’s why we are so proud to work with our newest grantee, The Paper Project who is helping tackle this big problem one byline at a time. They are helping create rich, peer-mentoring, reinforce critical writing skills and develop new engagement opportunities for middle school students to boost academic success.

Combining Two Great Ideas

Idea 1: Engagement in middle school is a critical opportunity to boost student graduation rates through intervention. In fact, ¾ of all high school students at risk can now be effectively identified as early as 6th grade. One-on-one instruction and mentoring of middle school students is regarded as an extremely effective early stage intervention to address high dropout rates.

Idea 2: Students participating in high school journalism programs were found more likely to score higher on college entrance exams, become more informed citizens, and have higher GPAs according to a study by the Newspaper Association of America.

Building One Great Idea

Right now, only five out of 51 traditional middle and high schools in DC have newspapers. Of the 37 charter middle and high schools The Paper Project surveyed, only seven have newspapers. In the other schools, students do not have a voice in their school community or a good outlet for expression. The Paper Project is a program run by local high school journalists that starts newspapers and mentors journalism students at DC public middle schools. Their vision is to help DC students find their voices and create an outlet for their expression in order to empower students to speak up and speak out for what they believe in. The Paper Project currently works with Cesar Chavez Prep Public Charter School in Columbia Heights where 70% of student qualify for free or reduced lunch. As a DC Social Innovation Project, The Paper Project will be working with volunteers, our core team, and their broader community to identify opportunities to sustain and scale the model in the year to come.


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