LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - Three out of every ten kids in the United States don't graduate from high school.
It's a national picture that's getting some Arkansas attention right now with a new program for the Boys and Girls Club. The Central Arkansas chapter will launch the program this fall with some early intervention, targeting middle school students.
The Central Arkansas chapter is among ten Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide that was chosen for the "Be Great: Graduate" program. It's focusing in on at-risk middle school students: a group club organizers say can often have a lot of stress in their lives and don't always get the attention they need.
"You're on and you do five questions and once you get five in a row correct, you get to do a video game of your choice for one minute and then it kicks back to the questions," Shelby Kriz says, describing an activity at the James Penick Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday.
These middle school girls are keeping education alive during summer break at a Little Rock Boys and Girls Club. Over in the gym, these middle school boys get some basketball time Tuesday; everyone enjoying a positive experience that will grow this fall.
"A lot of times in middle school you start developing the idea of what you want to be when you grow up, you're going through puberty, there are so many things happening to you in middle school," said Kriz, who is the Director of Education for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas.
To keep these kids on track to graduation, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas has a new program this fall, partnering with the University of Phoenix. The first part is a weekly mentoring program.
"Just to let that kid know that somebody cares about them and they're consistent, they come every week, they make promises and they keep those promises," Kriz said.
Education Director Shelby Kriz says relationships like that are key for at-risk students. Part Two of the program works with a student's school, closely tracking red flags.
"Making sure that if we see truancy several days in a row, let's address that issue, let's find out what's causing that," Kriz said.
It's keeping an eye on these kids so they continue learning and playing well long into their lives.
This program will start with 25 sixth graders this fall. Mentors will come from the University of Phoenix and the community. The college will also provide free backpacks and school supplies for the kids.
We're told that on Wednesday a representative from the Boys and Girls Club of America will be in town to visit with Central Arkansas chapter leaders and the University of Phoenix. They will get help on building the mentoring program.