Press Release Archive

NASS Founder Tom Tillapaugh is Key Panelist at Two White House Summits; Lends Expertise on Drop-Out Crisis and Urban Education

White House Faith-Based Director Jay Hein and America's Promise Alliance Chairwoman Alma Powell (pictured with Tom, at right), lead the briefing.

Based upon his personal 23-year career of serving high-risk and vulnerable youth in Denver, Tillapaugh was a unique panelist, as he offered innovations on student retention and dropout prevention used daily by NASS as a part of the Street School Model. Through NASS, Tillapaugh and his staff equip a network of 43+ schools around the country to design and operate high-quality faith-based schools for those students at-risk of educational failure.

"What will it take to increase the graduation rate for at-risk youth?" submitted Tillapaugh. "Sacrificial intervention in the lives of these kids by loving, caring adults to the point of extreme inconvenience. We can go on all day about best practices, but there is no substitute for just physically being with these kids, demonstrating your love by your presence and interest in their lives."

About 7,000 students drop out of high school per day, most of whom are minority and low-income students. March statistics from the U.S. Labor Department show that the 8.2 percent jobless rate for Americans with less than a high school education is 60% higher than the overall jobless rate.

The April 24 White House Summit on Inner-City Children and Faith-Based Schools highlighted the need to preserve the critically important educational alternatives for urban students attending chronically underperforming schools. In his 2008 State of the Union Address, President Bush announced this summit as an opportunity to help increase awareness of the challenges faced by low-income students in the inner cities and address the positive role of faith-based schools in meeting the needs of those students.

President Bush opened the summit, which was attended by educators, policymakers and community leaders, asserting the bright future for children found in faith-based schools. "In neighborhoods where some people say children simply can't learn, the faith-based schools are proving the nay-sayers wrong. These schools provide a good, solid academic foundation for children. They also help children understand the importance of discipline and character."

In his remarks, Tillapaugh observed, "Early in the development of the Denver Street School in the late 1980's, I determined that strong interpersonal relationships in a small environment would create the atmosphere and platform most conducive to enticing youth to stay in school, and to lure drop-outs back into the classroom."

Despite the educational successes, America's urban faith-based schools are disappearing at an alarming rate. From 2000 to 2006, nearly 1,200 inner city faith-based schools closed due to lack of finances, displacing 425,000 students. This is especially troubling for minority students.

"Even with the significant challenges it faces, this sector of K-12 education has numerous good-news stories that demonstrate that with energetic leadership, creativity, and commitment, faith-based urban schools can continue to thrive for generations to come," offered White House Faith-Based Director Jay Hein.

About NASS
The National Association of Street Schools (NASS) is working nationwide to meet the challenge of at-risk youth by developing a network of schools that provide personalized education, a moral code and tools for self-sufficiency. NASS aims to reduce the high school dropout rate by developing quality faith-based schools across the country for students at-risk of educational failure. The 43+ member schools educate the “whole student,” with a powerful culture of one-on-one relationships between teachers and students, where teachers are dedicated to helping each student succeed in the classroom and prepare for the future. For more information, please visit