• IDRA Newsletter • September 2013 •

Schools in five U.S. cities will benefit from IDRA’s highly-successful dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, made possible by a new $1 million grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation to IDRA. Through the grant, five school districts will be funded to implement the program for up to four years. Selected schools in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Sacramento and New York City will be invited to participate. IDRA designed and developed the program and provides the full range of training, technical assistance, evaluation and support materials. With this grant, IDRA also will work with local community, state and federal sources to shape and sustain the program beyond the initial funding.

“In 2014, the Coca-Cola Foundation and IDRA will celebrate a 30-year partnership of implementing the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program nationally and internationally,” stated Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO. “The program is based on the creed: All students are valuable, none is expendable. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has maintained a less than 2 percent dropout rate and is approved by the Texas State Board of Education as an innovative course eligible for elective credit at the high school level.”

Created by IDRA, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is an award-winning cross-age tutoring program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school – more than 33,000 students, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out. The lives of more than 787,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program in cities across the United States and in Brazil, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

This research-based dropout prevention program works by identifying middle school and high school students who are at-risk of dropping out and enlisting them as tutors for elementary school youngsters who are also struggling in school. Given this role of personal and academic responsibility, the Valued Youth tutors improve their literacy and thinking skills, bolster self-esteem and feel they belong in their school. Schools shift to the philosophy and practices of valuing students considered at-risk. Results show that tutors stay in school, have increased academic performance, improve school attendance and advance to higher education.

“The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program gives an opportunity for young people to see themselves and for others to see them as the valuable and important young people that they are… not limited by adult or school perceptions about them,” added Dr. Robledo Montecel.

Since 1990 when The Coca-Cola Foundation was established, it has provided IDRA with funding for materials and curriculum development, research and expansion. Under this new grant, in addition to launching the five sites, IDRA will help identify partnering networks to sustain the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in their communities. IDRA also will expand outreach for the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Alumni Fellows Network among tutors and their college-going peers in ways that inspire persistence, graduation and the view that they, too, can be college-bound.

Interested secondary schools can apply to become part of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program network by contacting IDRA to implement the program at their campuses. Districts and campuses use federal funds, such as Title I, Title II, Title III, and state compensatory and migrant funds to operate the program. Often schools form school-business partnerships with local businesses and civic groups to secure funds.

Additional information is online at: http://www.idra.org

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via email at feedback@idra.org.

[©2013, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 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.]