By Aidan Connaughton
Because the high school graduation rate of male Latinos in Colorado is 15% percent below the state average, organizations like the Student Recovery Program in Greeley serve an important role in closing the gap. Since its founding in 2008, the Student Recovery Program has supported more than one hundred at-risk Latino males at Greeley Central High School and Northridge High School.
The Student Recovery Program begins by identifying Latino males at risk of dropping out (either due to behavioral issues, academic lagging, excessive absences, or family and social issues) and then encourages them to apply for a spot in the program. During the summer months, students have the opportunity to recover lost credits in Math and English through individualized tutoring, small group classes, and self-paced learning modules. They also develop healthy relationships with each other and with various mentors that will guide the students through the remainder of their high school careers. One of the most unique components of the program is that students are given monetary incentives for achieving specific learning goals to compensate for lost wages that a summer job could provide. Additionally, the Student Recovery Program operates an office at each school during the school year that monitors academic progress and works with staff and parents to provide a strong support system for the program’s students.
During the past eight years, the Student Recovery Program has had tremendous success. The graduation rate for their students is 85%, eight points above Colorado’s average graduation rate in 2015 and more than 22 points higher than Latino males in Colorado. Of the 38 freshman who participated in the summer program in 2015, 34 are on track to graduate in four years. The human effects of the program are even more telling; in the words of one participant, “It’s never too late to change yourself into a better person, socially and academically. By trying my best every day and giving it my all, I noticed that you will succeed in your everyday life.”
Armed with a diploma and a strong work ethic, 90% of Student Recovery Program graduates are gainfully employed, and all look forward to improving their community. While there is still much to be done to raise graduation rates for all students, the Student Recovery Program will continue to strengthen this effort by assisting some of the most at-risk students in Greeley.