The primary goal of our Family Resource Center at Dobie Middle School is "to have all students in the classroom every day, ready to learn." Sounds pretty simple and easy, doesn't it? And yet, last year school districts in Central Texas lost over $470 million in revenues because of student absences. That's equivalent to the expense of constructing five Long Centers every year. The two most common reasons that students give for failing to attend is that school is boring and they would rather hang out with their friends. But the truth is a bit more complicated than that.
In fact, recent research studies indicate that over half the factors that affect the academic performance of low-income students take place outside the classroom. It makes sense, doesn't it? It's hard for a student to study if her family is homeless or his stomach is growling. Schools are being negatively affected by all sorts of "out of school" factors, like increasing levels of child poverty, high student mobility rates, struggles with housing, unemployment, and healthcare, just to name a few. That's why we partner with Austin ISD and Austin Voices for Education and Youth to direct one of these centers at Dobie Middle School.
At the Family Resource Center we develop relationships with parents to help them create a plan to move out of crisis into stability and, eventually, sustainability and growth. That's not easy and it doesn't happen quickly, but, with caring and perseverance, circumstances can change and lives can be transformed, especially the lives of those young students. It is estimated that the difference in lifelong income for a student that graduates from high school and one that does not is over $1 million. And just imagine the multiplying effect of that difference on the overall economy. Clearly, investing in people and programs that can help students get to graduation, and beyond, is well worth the money.
We believe Family Resource Centers are just such an investment and we need your support. You can begin by subscribing to this blog (type your email address in the upper right-hand column) and giving us a chance to tell you more about the difference that Urban Connection Austin and the Family Resource Centers make in the lives of our most vulnerable and precious students.