• IDRA Newsletter • October 2002 • 

The Texas State Board of Education has approved the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program as an innovative course. The course is approved for credit for students in grades nine through 12 but is recommended for grades nine and 10. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program was approved for state graduation elective credit only for the 2002-03 through the 2004-05 school years.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program in schools across the United States, Great Britain and Brazil created by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). In the program, secondary school students who are considered at risk of dropping out of school are placed as tutors of elementary school students during one class period each day. This enables 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.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program goals include:

  • reducing dropout rates;
  • enhancing students’ basic academic skills;
  • strengthening students’ perceptions of self and school;
  • reducing student disciplinary action referrals and absenteeism; and
  • strengthening school-home-community partnerships to increase the level of support available to students at risk of dropping out of school.

The key to the program’s success is in valuing students who are considered at risk of dropping out of school and sustaining their efforts with effective, coordinated strategies.

The State Board of Education did not approve the course to substitute for any state graduation required credits. Presently, there are five high schools in Dallas, Houston, Mission and San Antonio offering the state credit to their high school students participating in the program.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has impacted more than 136,000 children, families and educators. Since its inception at four schools in San Antonio in 1984 until 2002, 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 25 cities keep 98 percent of Valued Youth students in school, keeping these young people in the classroom and learning.

For more information contact Linda Cantú at IDRA. Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2002, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2002 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.]