Successful Dropout Prevention Program Comes to Detroit
Community Leaders Breakfast and Tutoring Demonstration Held

DETROIT, MI. December 8, 2005 – As the struggle to keep many young people in school continues to face educators, parents and communities around the country, one successful initiative, the
Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, is now in Detroit. Educators including William Coleman III, chief executive officer, Detroit Public Schools gathered for a community leaders breakfast and tutoring demonstration this morning at Western International High School and Maybury Elementary School.

“It is important to partner with corporations, said Coleman. The district is very concerned about the dropout rate. I was encouraged with my preliminary review of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.”

The 2003 U.S. Census reported that Hispanics and African Americans dropout at a quicker pace than whites. Almost 16 percent of Hispanics and the same percentage of African Americans in Michigan between ages of 16 and 24 aren’t enrolled in school and don’t have a high school diploma or GED compared to 8 percent of whites. The State of Michigan calculates a 44 percent graduation in Detroit. The Harvard Civil Right Project reports that nationally, 68 percent of students graduate on time with a diploma.

“The reason we as a nation have failed to reduce dropout rates is that we have been blaming the students – claiming that their soul, their mind, their heart, or their community environment is unhealthy – rather than tending to what grown-ups and schools should be doing to keep children in school,” said María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., executive director of the IDRA and founder of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is making a difference. Funded by a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, IDRA created this internationally recognized dropout prevention program with an unusual twist. The program works by identifying junior high and high school students in at-risk situations and enlisting them as tutors for elementary school students who are also struggling in school. Students from Western High School tutor younger students at Maybury Elementary School. Given this role of personal and academic responsibility, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors gain self-discipline, increase their self-esteem and succeed academically. The program design is based on IDRA research of dropout data and school holding power.

“As a graduate of Northwestern High School and a former Detroit Public School teacher, it gives me great pride to bring this special program to Detroit. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program helps schools and communities see the inherent value and potential of each student,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, Senior Vice President Corporate External Affairs and Chairperson, The Coca-Cola Foundation.

“The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is successful because it demonstrates to students the value of their own education and of the contributions they can make in the lives of others. The students feel needed and important. They know others rely on them as role models. The young students really do see our tutors as heroes,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel.

According to the Coca-Cola Valued Youth creed “all students are valuable, none is expendable.” This philosophy is helping schools across the United States and Brazil, lower the dropout rate. In the program, the dropout rates are averaging less than 2 percent, keeping 98 percent of young people in the classroom and learning. The program currently spans five states in the United States and 14 cities in Brazil, and throughout its 21 year history has positively impacted the lives of more than 375,000 children, families and educators, keeping more than 20,000 students in school.

“My involvement in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has made me a better person,” said Miguel Reyes, 10 th grade Western High School student and Coca-Cola Valued Youth tutor. Crystal Fuller, 11 th grade Western High School who also tutors said, “The younger kids look forward to seeing me and feel compelled to be there.”

About the Intercultural Development Research Association
IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, dedicated to creating schools that work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.

About The Coca-Cola Foundation
The mission of The Coca-Cola Foundation is to improve the quality of life in the community and enhance individual opportunity through education. To accomplish this, the Foundation supports programs that provide youth with the educational opportunities and support systems they need to become knowledgeable about the world in which they live and better able to give back to their communities. At The Coca-Cola Foundation, we believe education is a fundamental means to help individuals reach their full potential.