We’ve partnered with these exceptional organizations. Learn more about what they do and how to get involved on their websites.
Communities In Schools (CIS) works inside schools, bringing community resources to young people who are impacted by poverty. CIS operates in 25 States and DC, serving 1.5 million students each year.
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. We bring together more than 400 national organizations and thousands of community leaders to focus the nation’s attention on young people’s lives and voices, lead bold campaigns to expand opportunity, conduct groundbreaking research on what young people need to thrive, and accelerate the adoption of strategies that help young people succeed. GradNation, our signature campaign, has helped to increase the nation’s high school graduation rate to a record high. In the past 12 years, an additional 2 million young people have graduated from high school.
Support our Impact Campaign and help bring Black Rock High School's story to more organizations, experts, and venues where it can have a significant impact in your community.
At the national level, our goal is to engage parents, teachers and policy makers in school districts across the country where the effects of poverty are beyond the means and expertise of the mainstream secondary schools. To this end, we plan to run a touring series of ‘town hall’ screenings and audience feedback sessions that would increase awareness, discourse, and support for dropout intervention efforts targeted at low-income students. The philosophies of Black Rock can be used to spark a national discussion of how to better address the needs of struggling students. That discussion may also have an effect on the degree of finger-pointing toward ‘failing schools’ and ‘bad teachers’ in our national education discourse.
At the state level, because Black Rock is up for recognition as a Model Continuation High School, there is an opportunity to allow California educators, school boards, and parents to gain an understanding of how Principal Viland’s philosophies can be incorporated in continuation schools across the state to help reduce the incidence of dropouts. Ms. Viland’s and Black Rock’s membership in the CCEA (California Continuation Education Assoc.) offer us an entrée into a wide network of educators who have a significant stake in both the improvement and expansion of schools like Black Rock.
There is a clear need for this story in the very community at the heart of the film, which unfortunately believes that Black Rock is a place where “the bad kids" go. We hope to counter this impression with a positive view of the school and its mission, and to increase local support. The success of many of Black Rock’s students can also provide a hopeful example and a source of pride to the community. Our established relationships with Morongo Unified School District Superintendent Tom Baumgarten and Assistant Superintendent Deborah Turner will aid us in reaching out to the community.
Black Rock High School offers a rare look at the ways that poverty can be tackled from within public education. Black Rock is one of about 500 alternative public high schools that comprise California’s Continuation Education Program, the mission of which is to identify students who are at risk of dropping out of conventional high schools and re-engage them in completing their secondary education. Dropout rates are inextricably tied to poverty. Students from the bottom 20% of all family incomes are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those in the top 20%; and Black Rock serves a community where the poverty rate is 18.12% versus 14.88% nationwide.
You can help make a difference in the every day lives of Black Rock High School Students by donating to the school's Necessity Fund.
Continuation schools like Black Rock have been the most effective program in California’s dropout intervention efforts for almost 95 years, but despite their success, little public attention is paid to their methods or to the problems they address. These schools also suffer from a lack of uniformity in their practices. In some cases, continuation schools have become punitive environments––repositories for the so-called ‘bad kids’––and whether those kids achieve is less important than removing them from the mainstream schools. However, in March of 2015, Black Rock was named one of 29 Model Continuation Schools in the State of California, recognized for providing innovative programs and comprehensive services to students who may otherwise be at risk of not graduating. Black Rock High School is a dropout intervention model for both California and the country at large.
For Principal Vonda Viland and her staff, coping with the traumas her students suffer in their home lives takes precedence over force-feeding them facts and figures. At Black Rock, it is understood that it might be necessary to focus an entire year on just keeping a student in school and trying to understand his or her obstacles before expecting academic progress. Patience, respect, and compassion are the tools employed to build a foundation for student success. Realistic preparations for the work force and for life’s responsibilities outweigh planning for further higher education: these students can pursue a college education only if they first know how to support themselves.
To help nurture the future of Black Rock High Students by making a donation to the school's Scholarship Fund.