• IDRA Newsletter • October 2001
The Coca-Cola Foundation featured a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor in it latest annual report, Freddie a 13-year-old in Brooklyn. In an interview, he said that last semester, he was absent so often that he found it nearly impossible to keep up with his eighth-grade class. “School bored him,” states the report, “He was failing most of his classes –and he didn’t care.”
Everything changed when Freddie became a CocaCola Valued Youth Program tutor to three third-grade students.
Created by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), the CocaCola Valued Youth Program, is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program in schools across the United States, Great Britain and Brazil. Since its inception in San Antonio in 1984 until 2001, the program kept more than 11,500 students in school, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out.
According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable, none is expendable. This philosophy is helping more than 240 schools in 24 cities keep 98 percent of Valued Youth students in school, keeping these young people in the classroom and learning. For more than 17 years, IDRA and The CocaCola Foundation have worked together in a unique partnership that is making a visible difference in the lives of more than 129,000 children, families and educators.
In the CocaCola Valued Youth Program, secondary students who are considered at risk of dropping out of school are placed as tutors of elementary students, enabling the older students 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 and instruction.
Freddie told the Foundation: “The third-graders think I’m an older, cooler kid, so they look up to me. I like helping people. Teaching the little kids makes me feel better about myself.” His grades have risen an average of 20 points, and he is rarely absent now.
Amy Dawson is the school’s teacher coordinator for the program. She told the Foundation: “For years, Freddie wasn’t excited about school. This program has turned him around. It’s working. Now he does care, and he’s going to make it.”
For more information about the Coca Cola Valued Youth Program, contact Linda Cantu at IDRA (210-444-1710) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[©2001, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2001 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.]