In Washington DC less than 60% of high school seniors graduate in four years while only 50% of teen mothers in DC graduate at all. By teaching 25 at-risk teen parents the connection between education and economic success we hope to change negative attitudes and behaviors concerning school. The 18 real world JA classroom lessons will augment their one-day experience as "adults" and prepare them to be responsible parents who make informed decisions for themselves and their children.
Youth unemployment in DC is double the national average at 17%. For at-risk youth in poverty-ridden areas the rate is higher. Further, 66% of households headed by teen parents live in poverty and girls born to teen mothers are three times as likely to repeat the cycle. With an increased focus on standardized testing and basic reading and math skills acquisition, DC public schools do not provide financial literacy or work readiness classes as part of their college preparatory curriculum.
Participants in JA Finance Park gain critical understanding of the nation's economic system and with it the information needed to give them a sense of control of their own economic potential. They also learn the importance of a family budget and how to manage the money they earn by being conscientious of the priority they must place on needs vs. wants. This project will provide a foundation for a group of teen parents to break the cycle by empowering them to take charge of their future.
It's been proven that students who receive JA six times during their school career are 90% more likely to graduate from high school. The goal of our project will be for youth to develop attitudes aligned with high school graduation and 21st century skills that prepare them for success. In addition, JA programs improve student academic performance and achievement leading to increased graduation rates.