United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

Posted on October 14, 2016

Bank of America and United Way hold first-ever Boston GradNation Community Summit

Bank of America and United Way host GradNation Summit

Local leaders in business, education, policy and philanthropy today joined Bank of America and United Way for the first-ever Boston GradNation Community Summit as part of America’s Promise Alliance’s GradNation campaign.  The Summit is providing an opportunity to review current efforts to raise local graduation rates and support youth in and outside of school.  The Summit has a special focus on helping students achieve growth in social and emotional skills in order to foster educational success and financial opportunity. 

More than one in five students in Boston do not graduate from high school. Bank of America and United Way are presenting the Boston GradNation Community Summit, a day of discussion and action to share solutions and get more community members involved in helping to keep youth engaged, ready to graduate and to move on to college and/or technical training and careers.

“It will take all of us coming together – businesses, government, educators, researchers, funders and community leaders – to ensure students succeed not only in school, but in college, career and life,” said Michael K. Durkin, President at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “Today’s Boston GradNation Community Summit looks to harness our city’s considerable expertise and resources to better support students’ social and emotional well-being to prepare them for academic and lifelong success.  ”

“Providing pathways for young people to gain the knowledge and skills that will set them on the path to stable employment and meaningful lives is a key priority for our company and our community,” states Kerry Sullivan, Bank of America Charitable Foundation President. “We are honored to host GradNation Boston as a significant step towards finding innovative and impactful solutions to improve the high school graduation rate in our community.”

Growth in social and emotional skills is linked to improved academic achievement and positive impacts on long-term outcomes such as educational attainment, employment, substance abuse and criminal activity, according to a 2015 analysis by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Educational Learning. Today’s Summit featured research and discussions of how to best support student social and emotional well-being both in school and out of school, and how to know which programs and strategies are most successful.

“Wherever learning is taking place – in or beyond school – it has to be whole learner focused,” says Turahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the City of Boston.  “We’ve got to make certain that we are simultaneously helping to build academic knowledge, gain practical skills and achieve social-emotional maturity.  I hope that today’s GradNation Summit will help the city’s education stakeholders bring greater intentionality to our efforts to holistically meet young people’s learning and developmental needs.”

The Boston GradNation Community Summit featured City of Boston Education Chief Turahn Dorsey, Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director at The Rennie Center, Amalio Nieves, Boston Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Social and Emotional Learning and Wellness, Stephanie Jones and Mandy Savitz-Romer of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Manny Montiero of UMASS Boston and Alex Olivier-Davila of Sociedad Latina.

The goal of Boston GradNation Community Summit is to help raise the graduation rate in the City of Boston to 90 percent by 2020.  Attendees will begin to develop an action plan that outlines steps to accelerate work to raise graduation rates.  The national sponsor of the GradNation Community Summits initiative is AT&T.

About United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

United Way harnesses the power of local communities working together – individuals, businesses, nonprofits and government agencies — to create positive lasting change.  Its focus is on the two foundations of better lives: creating financial opportunity and educational success.  United Way identifies the most pressing issues and targets resources to the areas of greatest need. It funds the most effective nonprofits and programs, measures their progress against agreed upon objectives, and provides them with extensive support and mobilizes thousands of volunteers each year. www.unitedwaymassbay.org @UnitedWayMABay

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance leads more than 400 organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the 21st century workforce.  www.americaspromise.org