What is the StreetSchool Network?
We are working nationwide to meet the needs of youth and reduce the high school dropout rate by giving students a second chance at educational success through our national network of schools. Our member schools educate the “whole student” through programs encompassing academic rigor, career preparation, life-skills building, economic literacy and spiritual development.
There is a major crisis in education in America. We are in jeopardy of losing the next generation due to a horrific dropout epidemic. Our country’s education statistics are staggering.
- 7,000 adolescents per day drop out or are expelled from our nation’s high schools, according to America’s Promise Alliance, a national youth-focused coalition started by Colin and Alma Powell.
- Fifty percent of minority youth drop out of high school before graduating.
- In some urban cores, only 35% of African-American and Hispanic males graduate from high school. The statistics for females are only slightly higher.
Having an uneducated and undereducated populace comes at a terrible cost to the average American. This is a tremendous burden for the taxpayer. Without an all-important high school diploma, young people are:
- twice as likely to be unemployed.
- seven times more likely to be on government assistance.
- three-and-a-half times more likely to get arrested.
The negative impact that this crisis will have on our economy has been estimated at $192 billion per year for each successive class of dropouts.
But worse is the large number of young people who are adrift because of their academic, familial, and societal circumstances. They have no hope for a successful future by any definition and often turn to gangs and drugs.
There can be a debate as to what combination of personal bad choices, poor adult modeling, and society’s oversight can be blamed for their current situation, but the end result is the same. The adolescent feels hopeless with no way out.
Never have the statistics been
Historically, faith-based schools have provided the highest quality education to the neediest students in our nation’s urban cores. They have often been an oasis of hope in a desert of despair. The Denver Street School, a Christian secondary school, was founded in 1985 to serve Denver’s most troubled kids …
– gang members, the addicted, teen moms, and those with other issues which caused the teen to drop out or be expelled from school.
Within just a few years of the formation of the Denver Street School in 1985, Mr. Tom Tillapaugh, DSS founder, and administrator, began to receive calls from educators in other cities requesting help in starting like schools for troubled youth in their own metropolitan areas.
In an effort to have an organized response to an increasing nationwide need, Mr. Tillapaugh founded the National Association of Street Schools, now StreetSchool Network (SSN), in 1996. SSN provides a clearinghouse of information and support for educators across the nation that wish to start schools for at-risk young people or desire help for their already existing interventionist model school.
The StreetSchool Network™ exists for these very students, working nationwide to meet the challenges of youth living in at-risk environments by developing a network of schools that provide a personalized education, a moral code, and tools for self-sufficiency. Our purpose is to facilitate the development and accreditation of schools based on the StreetSchool Essentials for reaching and supporting high-need students. In this way, network schools serve as educational “intensive care units” for those students being left behind.
The StreetSchool Network™ has had a dramatic impact on the lives of those in the at-risk population. Member schools have achieved impressive benchmarks including boosting GPAs by more than 67% (over a student’s previous school experience) and demonstrating a college enrollment rate of 73%. What’s more, schools collectively provide students with more than 80,000 hours of literacy intervention annually to improve their reading and writing skills. Plus, StreetSchool Network™ is helping schools achieve accreditation through Advanced Ed and the regional accrediting agencies. Perhaps most encouraging of all, 85% of StreetSchool Network™ alumni are either attending a college or trade school, are gainfully employed, in the military, or own their own businesses and are successfully contributing to their communities.
Street Schools…the road to hope for at-risk kids!
During the summer of 1979, Tom Tillapaugh, founder of the Denver Street School and president of the StreetSchool Network™, visited a group home for young homeless people in downtown Denver. As members of this home were working hard towards rehabilitation and more meaningful productive lives, there was one component …
Tom saw that was standing as a barrier to their success: they did not have high school diplomas. As an educator himself, Tom saw the critical need for an educational outreach to these young people which would not only instill a sense of self-esteem, but also provide the tools for self- sufficiency.
In 1985, with five students around his dining room table, Tom opened a school for high school drop-outs in an inner-city neighborhood in Denver, CO. Tom found that he had to adjust techniques and procedures from the traditional classroom to meet the special needs of his unique student body. As the school began to flourish, it wasn’t long before word spread about the work being done. People began calling from around the country to ask how they could replicate the Street School Model in their city.
In response to those requests, Wendy Piersee joined Tillapaugh in 1996 and together they co-founded the national association to develop services and provide accountability and resources to Street Schools around the country. In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation selected the StreetSchool Network™ as one of eight educational intermediaries whose model was chosen for replication through the Alternative High School Initiative.
In 2005 through the leadership of Todd Goble, the StreetSchool Network™ was approved as an sponsoring corporation with the Commission for International and Trans-regional Accreditation (now AdvancED), allowing StreetSchool Network™ to help its network schools prepare to be a candidate for accreditation, select schools to be candidates, provide annual reviews, and resource and support their ongoing School Continuous Improvement Plans.
Today, there are 46 schools operating in 30 cities serving nearly 4,000 students with amazing results. Many of the cities where you will find network schools are places like Denver and Cleveland where high school graduation rates hover between 30-40%. Network schools have made significant progress in the past few years in incorporating digital tools to support data collection on student outcomes, and standardized testing to allow for data-driven decision making on adjusting instruction to support student achievement.
The StreetSchool Network™ is recognized nationally for its efforts to stem the drop-out crisis by working nation- wide to develop a network of schools that specifically reach out to students who have not succeeded educationally nor have numerous risk factors that contribute to educational failure. Network schools educate the “whole student” through programs that contain academic rigor, personal/social development, career preparation, economic literacy and spiritual/character development.