National dropout prevention and recovery organization is now Graduation Alliance



Matthew LaPlante


For four years, a passionate group of education leaders, teachers, mentors and technology experts has partnered with school districts across the country to provide an alternative path to graduation for students facing challenging life circumstances.

“Our students are often teen parents. They’re working full-time or more to support a family. They left school because they we being bullied. Or they’ve been too sick to attend,” said Rebekah Richards, the program’s co-founder and chief academic officer. “They all come to us for different reasons, but they all share one goal — graduation.”

To honor that goal — and the tremendous teamwork it takes to achieve it — the nationwide network of dropout prevention and recovery programs has adopted a new name: Graduation Alliance.

Graduation Alliance was previously known as The American Academy, and the partnerships it facilitated with districts were part of its NoDropouts program.

“Our new name sends a clear, aspirational message about who we are, what we do and how we do it,” said chief executive officer Ray Kelly. “We help students get to graduation. And we do it by forming a robust support network around each and every young man and woman we serve.”

Founded in 2007 as a private and accredited online high school focused on adult learners who had not yet earned a diploma, Graduation Alliance has expanded rapidly since 2009, when it began partnering directly with school districts to serve students who had more recently dropped out or were at risk of doing so. Today, it provides the flexibility, social support and academic interventions needed to get students to graduation day in more than 80 school districts from border to border and coast to coast.

The new name is intended to speak equally to school administrators and students.

“In both cases, what we wanted to do was to have a name that expresses this vital idea of partnership,” Kelly said. “Getting to graduation is incredibly hard work, both for students and the people who support them. Nobody does that alone. It takes a team. It takes a Graduation Alliance.”

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