ATLANTA – Interim Director Virginia Pryor announced that the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has been awarded a GradNation Acceleration Grant by America’s Promise Alliance, with generous support from AT&T. Georgia DFCS is one of five state and community grant recipients around the country that are poised to accelerate progress for more young people to high school graduation and post-secondary success.

Totaling $800,000 across all five grantees, DFCS will receive $250,000 over two years to fund Project Graduate 2.0 which will identify, implement and sustain best practices to support youth in foster care. With Georgia’s graduation rate for youth in foster care currently at 11 percent, support from this grant will help Project Graduate 2.0 reach 250 students.

Youth in foster care face disruptions to their education that lead to academic underperformance and increase the likelihood of their leaving school prior to graduating. In response, Project Graduate 2.0 intends to strengthen the system’s capacity to address the needs of youth in foster care through advisory workgroups, research on program impact and cross-agency collaborative learning.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our work with Project Graduate through the support of America’s Promise and AT&T,” said the Division’s Interim Director Virginia Pryor.

“While our number one goal is the safety of all children, we are also invested in ensuring that families are stronger and communities are more supportive places for all of its members to thrive through our State of Hope effort. State of Hope is a collaborative approach in which people from all walks of life share a vision of safety and success for every child, family and individual who lives in their community,” said Pryor.

“This grant gives us a unique opportunity to focus on this priority area for the Division and be ‘Hope Givers’ who ensure that youth in foster care thrive and are equipped with the tools necessary to achieve social and economic success as adults.”

Applications for the grant were submitted from 10 priority states that would have a measurable impact on improving the national graduation rate and closing equity gaps. In total, there were more than 100 applicants– all committed to improving graduation rate outcomes for a specific group of students using strategies aligned to the GradNation Action Platform. The platform identifies six areas that every community should act on to accelerate the high school graduation rate.

“We know that the most significant improvements in the national high school graduation rate will happen on the local level – in districts and communities working each day to meet the individual needs of young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “The final grantees were selected because they demonstrated a deep understanding of the specific student populations needing additional support and have a track record for maximizing the resources and partnerships to meet those student needs.”

“The GradNation campaign continues to demonstrate progress at increasing our nation’s high school graduation rate while also helping students pursue high quality, post-secondary degrees. Both of which are critical steps to creating a skilled and diverse workforce,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility and president of the AT&T Foundation. “It is important that we continue to invest in work that helps move students across the high school graduation stage and gets them ready for the next phase of life.”

This work of the GradNation campaign is a continuation of a decade-long undertaking. During that time, the national graduation rate has increased from 73 percent to its current all-time high of 84.1 percent. That 10 percent increase represents the more than 2 million additional young people who were able to graduate from high school with their class over the past decade.

The intended outcomes for this work include: an increase to the graduation rate, shared learning for adoption and replication in other states and communities, and strengthened local capacity to improve outcomes for young people based on their needs and strengths.

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