A Community Conversation

October 8, 2009  //  United Way

Help us help all our students graduate from high school – be part of the solution.

The Lincoln Board of Education, in partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Chapter of the United Way and the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, invites the public to attend a two-meeting Community Conversation this fall.

The Conversation will address and identify solutions to the major issues that impact students who not graduate from high school: issues that often go far beyond our school classrooms and involve family support systems, poverty, mental health issues, and additional community and societal challenges.
“This is a bold vision for our community as we ask the public to come together and join us in this critical discussion,” said Lincoln Superintendent of Schools Susan Gourley. “We believe in the power of community engagement, as we look for additional ways to improve our graduation rate, one of the most important issues in education today.”

Gourley stressed that students who fail to graduate from high school have a serious and long-lasting impact on the entire community: “The achievement of a simple high school diploma creates measurable benefits that ripple through the fabric of a city.”

A diploma has enormous benefits in increased wages and accumulated wealth – for the individual and for the community, she explained. It also translates into a more comfortable and secure lifestyle for the graduate, fewer health issues, the decreased likelihood of receiving government assistance or going to jail, and the decreased likelihood of continuing the cycle of poverty in families.

The public is asked to join in the conversation and attend two meetings scheduled at Lincoln High School, 2229 J St.:
6-8:30 p.m. on: Thursday, Oct. 15
6-8:30 p.m. on: Thursday, Nov. 5

“This discussion is vital to the long-term success of our community,” said Steve Navin, chair of the Board for the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. “Every high school diploma is a building block that provides bright options for graduates and adds to the skilled workforce that will shape our community for years to come. All opinions are welcome and appreciated.”

Brian Wachman, executive director of United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County, agreed. “We believe this partnership will allow us to engage the community in a meaningful discussion, resulting in action steps that help youth of all backgrounds and ethnicities graduate from high school.”

Wachman pointed out that one of United Way’s two major funding areas is “Investing in Lincoln’s Future: Our Children,” an initiative aimed at ensuring that all children are ready for kindergarten, and then succeed academically by 5th and 8th grades, so that they graduate from high school and pursue continuing education or meaningful employment.

The October conversation will begin with a presentation explaining and exploring major factors identified in the lives of LPS students who drop out of school. In November, working as a collective, participants will begin to identify community solutions and develop recommendations for how our community might come together to increase the high school graduation rate and lower the dropout rate.

“We hope you will join us in this Community Conversation,” Gourley said. “Together, we can address this community challenge. Together, we can ensure a better life for all our students – a better future for our community’s future citizens and leaders.”

Leadership Lincoln will help facilitate the two evenings. Other organizations across the community are also joining the initiative by signing on as additional partners.

No advanced registration is necessary. Doors at Lincoln High open at 5:30 p.m. The two meetings are free and open to the public.