The new year is upon us — a time when millions of Americans make “resolutions” they plan to keep for the new year. Most of them have something to do with personal improvement; like losing weight, saving money, working out, etc.
I was wondering this week if you needed some help on yours?
If so, for the next few days, I plan to offer some relevant resolutions for us to make in this great country we live in. Let’s start with a deep need occurring all around us — our kids. Despite some rare pockets in suburbia, they are in trouble.
The national high school dropout rate is currently a dismal 69%. Every school day, 7,200 young people give up on school. Nearly half of African-American, Latino and Native American students fail to graduate on time with their class.
Is this the end of the world? No — but it may be the end of the world as we know it. While education is not the answer to every need, without it young adults often spiral down a path of destruction and failed potential. With the exception of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they do not become the best version of themselves. We have a personal and educational crisis on our hands.
However, it doesn’t stop there. It represents a financial crisis, too. Consider this. Had these dropouts graduated, our nation’s economy would have benefited from more than $335 billion in income over their lifetimes. If even half of those students had graduated, it would yield $45 billion annually in extra tax revenue and cost savings. What’s more, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us a high school dropout will make $260,000 less than a high school graduate, and will contribute tens of thousands of dollars less in taxes. In fact, they’ll often need tax money to live. (A college graduate makes more than $35,000 a year than a high school dropout.) Further, if the male graduation rate were improved by a mere 5%, our nation would save $4.9 billion in crime related costs annually. Unbelievable.
So — here’s the resolution. What if each of us determined to get involved in our local schools and help solve this problem? For some students, they just need a caring adult to offer a little vision for their future; you could share your story and encourage them to go after their dreams in an after-school program. It may be you could volunteer once a week at a local Boys and Girls Club. Perhaps you could become a mentor for an at-risk kid. It doesn’t take a lot to impact a young person. Each of our team members at Growing Leaders is doing something like this — volunteering in Young Life, mentoring a group of girls, giving financially, leading small groups, or supplying Habitudes® books to schools and non-profits.
For us, it is a personal, financial, educational, and spiritual issue. We owe it to them to invest in their future. It makes an amazing resolution for 2011. Will you join us?