The project is a cooperative effort involving the Rotary Clubs of Boise Metro and Boise Sunrise in bringing the Everyday Leadership Program to 75 at-risk youth attending Garfield, Grace Jordan, and Koelsch Elementary Schools in Boise Idaho. Most of the students attending these Title I schools come from low-income families and are considered to be at risk of dropping out and not obtaining post-high school training. Research has found that children from low-income households develop academic skills slower than those from higher income families (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier, and Maczuga, 2009, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 401-413). This discrepancy results in the highest dropout rates occurring among students from low-income families (11.6%) as compared to high income families (2.8%) (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2014).
If these students fail to graduate from high school or achieve post-high school training, they will likely be unprepared for the workplace and become part of the breeding ground for the social and economic issues being experienced in our communities. Because of their low earning potential, they frequently become dependent on public resources, costing taxpayers $292,000 over the course of their lives (May 30, 2014). A Northeastern University study found that high school dropouts comprise over 80% of incarcerated populations.
In Idaho, our unskilled workforce is a serious problem. Idaho's graduation rate rests at 79.7%, lower than all but ten states (Stebbins and Frohlich, 2018. 24/7 Wall Street). Furthermore, only 42% of Idaho's workforce (ages 25 to 34) has obtained post-high school certificates or degrees (Idaho Statesman, April 9, 2017).
Everyday Leadership is a collaborative effort to provide low-income 5th and 6th grade youth with the skills and confidence they need to graduate and attain post-high school educations. The program targets fifth and sixth grade students because these youth are at a "gateway" where students with low self-esteem and poor academics are nineteen times more likely to dropout of school as their peers (United Way of Treasure Valley, 2011 Assessment).
Everyday Leadership collaborators are (1) participating schools, (2) Treasure Valley YMCA, (3) the Boise School District, (4) parents and (5) the Rotary Clubs of Boise Metro and Boise Sunrise. Approximately 15 Rotarians would serve as school liaisons, discussion leaders, and camp facilitators and cabin monitors.
Everyday Leadership is a school yearlong program consisting of:
(1)thirteen biweekly, after-school sessions. Games, discussions, skits, and speakers are used to impart life skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, decision making;
(2)two community service projects; and
(3) a three-day leadership camp.
The program has proven to be highly effective. In the 2016/17 school year, grades improved for 64% of the students and the average GPA increased to 3.47. Most importantly the number of students with GPAs less than 2.5 dropped to zero. The number of participants involved in behavioral issues dropped from 20 to 13, and only 5 students were involved in more than two episodes.
In the 2017/18 school year, 87% of the students improved their grades or had a GPA >3.5. The number of students with GPAs <2.5 dropped to zero. Behavioral incidences declined by 65%.
Observations from school principal, parents, and instructors noted positive changes in participants' personal behaviors. They were found to be positively influencing the behaviors of other students and their siblings.