Greg Emmel and Carolyn T. Miller, Executive Directors
For Immediate Release: July 17, 2018
United Way of the Midlands Awards $24,000 Grant to the D2 Center to Fund Youth Academic Navigator (YAN) / Reengagement Specialist Program
(Omaha, Nebraska.) The D2 Center is pleased to announce it was recently awarded a $24,000 grant from United Way of the Midlands. Thanks to the generosity of the United Way donors, an additional Youth Academic Navigator (YAN) was hired to reengage and support high-risk youth ages 15-21 who are struggling to finish their high school diploma. YANs build a caring relationship and help students focus on attendance, academics, and connections to needed resources in the community.
Every year, each YAN serves as a case manager for about 50 high school youth voluntarily participating in the D2 Center program. These high-risk youth may not graduate on time, are attending an alternative school, or have dropped out. After completing intake/assessment, students are assigned a YAN. YANs check in with their students frequently and communicate with other adults who care about the student’s progress. The D2 Center has a contract with Omaha Public Schools (OPS) to do outreach to students who withdraw from school but are eligible to enroll, and YANs attempt to reengage these dropouts to reenroll in school.
High school dropouts have fewer employment opportunities and a much lower earning potential; they experience higher rates of incarceration and health problems; they are also more likely to rely on public assistance and to live for extended periods of time in poverty compared to high school graduates. A high school diploma is recognized as a better gateway to postsecondary education compared to a GED.
With the help of this grant, the D2 Center will serve more students. During the 2017-18 school year, the D2 Center served 357 youth through the YAN program and attempted to reengage nearly 250 dropouts. Seventy-five students in the YAN program earned their high school diploma and many others are still enrolled. Twelve dropouts reengaged and graduated, and many others are also still enrolled. The D2 Center YAN / Reengagement Specialist Program aligns with United Way of the Midlands efforts to increase levels of education, attainment of marketable skills, and services to opportunity youth in the Omaha Metro – defined as youth ages 16-24 who are not working and not in school.
When Alejandra started the D2 Center program in the middle of her junior year she had fallen behind in high school and was struggling with attendance at school and in her math class. Her YAN would call her, text her, and visit her weekly at school encouraging her to attend more regularly and focus on her future. She attended tutoring at the D2 Center for help with math. She began working her senior year and her attendance struggles continued and she dropped out. Her parents felt it was more important to work than to go to school. But her YAN never stopped communicating with her and refused to give up on her. She encouraged her to reenroll in an alternative program and attend school part time. This past summer, after 2 ½ years in the D2 Center program and at the end of her 5th year of high school, she proudly completed her last class and became a high school graduate.
“United Way’s support for the D2 Center’s YAN program is greatly appreciated. The trajectory of many young lives will change in a positive way, and we want to thank all who made a contribution,” said Greg Emmel, Executive Director of the D2 Center.
About United Way of the Midlands:
Thanks to donors, volunteers and community partners, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) is not only focused on addressing our community’s human needs today; it is focused on what can be and what should be. It is building on today’s strong partnerships to create even more comprehensive human service efforts tomorrow, so our community can solve some of the root causes of poverty. UWM is community-based, community-focused. Thanks to those who share their strength, UWM is COMMUNITY STRONG. Please visit UnitedWayMidlands.org for more information
About the D2 Center:
The mission of the D2 Center is to connect out-of-school and disengaged youth ages 15-21 into an educational pathway with other resources and supports needed to earn a high school diploma and prepare for post-secondary opportunities and a career. Our services are:
- Youth Academic Navigator: YANs are education-focused case managers who check in with their students frequently and help with issues as they emerge to ensure students are making progress and earning credits in school.
- Tutoring and Elective Classes: Tutoring is offered two afternoons a week and elective credit classes are offered in the summer. Certified teachers specialize in creating a small, caring classroom environment with a focus on individual students and their success.
- Career Navigator: The Career Navigator assists students with postsecondary planning and connections for both career and educational opportunities. Services are also available to graduates.
- Reengagement Partnership: D2 Center staff members work closely with OPS staff to reengage students who have withdrawn from school but are eligible to enroll. Nearly all dropouts who choose to reenroll attend an OPS Multiple Pathways program.