The Silent Epidemic

Every 26 seconds, another teen drops out of public high school and forfeits $1 million in earning power over his or her lifetime. Nearly one-third of public high school students quit school. Now, organizations like SilentEpidemic.org and AmericasPromise have stepped in to offer advice and guidence for at-risk youth, as well as tips for adults on how to encourage youngsters to persue their education.

According to these organizations, here’s are three simple ways you can combat this problem:

Start a Job-Shadowing Program. AT&T launched a companywide job-shadowing program so local teens can see firsthand the skills needed to be successful at work, which reinforces the importance of school.

Mentor Students. “They need people who care and encourage them to hang in there,” says Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance.

Offer Internships. Or even summer job opportunities for teens at your business. Ask local teachers what they need. State Farm Insurance’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., learned that a lack of qualified substitute teachers made it tough for teachers to get time off for professional training and, thus, improve their skills. Solution: More than 600 State Farm employees became state-certified substitutes. They fill in while Bloomington-area teachers attended training.

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