• IDRA Newsletter • May 2013 •

All children are valuable; none is expendable. But the fact is U.S. high schools lose more than one third of their students before graduation, and the cumulative impact of this attrition affects every person. But, schools can increase their holding power by transforming how they recognize students’ inherent value, their contributions, and their potential significance to their communities and society, as a whole. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that is keeping more than 98 percent of participating students in school, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has worked dramatically everywhere it has been.

  • Less than 2 percent dropout rate among students deemed at risk.
  • More than 33,000 such students kept in school.
  • Positively impacted more than 780,000 children, families and educators.
  • Hundreds of schools now see promise where they once saw problems.

In the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, secondary students who are considered at-risk of dropping out of school are placed as tutors of elementary students, enabling them to make a difference in the younger students’ lives. With a growing sense of responsibility and pride, the tutors stay and do better in school. The program supports them with positive recognition, instruction and support.

“In these young people, the program creates a sense of responsibility, worth, contribution and accomplishment. Tutors improve their grades, they show up in school more often and in the principal’s office less often, and they stay in school,” adds Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President. “In addition, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program succeeds because it subtly but powerfully challenges and ultimately changes people’s beliefs and behaviors.”

Coca-Cola Valued Youth are an inspiration to the children they tutor, positive leaders among their peers, motivated learners to their teachers, a source of pride to their parents and contributors to their communities.

One Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program teacher coordinator in San Antonio said: “I’ve seen firsthand the difference this program can make in the lives of young people. The kids I work with have improved as students and as people because of this program. That’s been amazing to watch, especially since no one thought they’d even stay in school.”

IDRA provides the full range of training, technical assistance, evaluation and support materials to preserve the integrity of the program and ensure that students succeed. In Texas, the State Board of Education approved the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program as an innovative course eligible for elective credit at the high school level. Students participating in the program can earn one state credit for their participation in this course. For more information, contact IDRA at 210-444-1710 or contact@idra.org.

[©2013, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the May 2013 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]