Communities In Schools hosted the inaugural Milliken Dialogues and Policy Summit on April 25, 2018 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the theme of which was college and career readiness. At the Summit, a new Gallup poll commissioned on behalf of Communities In Schools was released. The poll revealed that only one in four U.S. adults perceive high school graduates to be prepared for college or career. Respondents chose financial planning and management and social/life skills—including conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, and persistence—when asked to choose among a list of potential programs and interventions that would be most helpful in improving student preparedness for college.
Communities In School of San Antonio alumnus and San Antonio City Council Member Rey Saldaña moderated a conversation in response to these results with alumni from Year Up, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Communities In Schools of Jacksonville.
“I believe the Gallup poll is a fair reflection of reality,” Year Up alumnus Anel Perez said. “But I was surprised to see that the poll showed that respondents ranked mentorship pretty low on the list of interventions.” Perez found that mentorship played a crucial role in helping him find that next step after high school, as did CIS of Jacksonville alumnus Dominic Cummings and Big Brothers Big Sisters alumna Michelle Caputi.
“The one single factor that pushed me over the edge to ensure my success in life was that one-on-one relationship with a caring adult, and that was my mentor,” said Cummings. Being raised in a single- family home with several other siblings, he doubts he would have gone to college without the support and strong relationship with his Communities In Schools site coordinator.
“Having someone to talk to was crucial for me,” Perez agreed. “It cannot be understated how impactful it is for a young adult to be able to talk to someone—having someone who not only cares about you, but who believes in what you’re trying to do.”
Caputi also traces her success to a caring adult. “When I met [Big Sister] Barbra I was in a group home and there was nowhere to go once you aged out; you were on the street. But being around Barbra, who had gone to college, gave me a role model. When the time came, she helped me figure out where to go. She was a great mentor: she sat with me, she listened to me, she cried with me, she helped me figure out a path,” she said.
“There’s a return on the investment,” said Cummings. “There have been so many people in my life—and it started with the foundation of Communities In Schools—so many people in my life who have pushed me, motivated me to do more, to be more, despite where I grew up, despite the various things that have happened in my life. I’ve received so much support, I feel like it’s my duty to give back. So, I became a mentor and I volunteer as a tutor on my lunch break; I find every opportunity I can to give back.”
Thank you to our partners and panelists who lent their thoughts and voices to this important conversation. Learn more about the Gallup Poll.