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United Way of the Midlands Brings National Summit on Education to the Midlands

In partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and AT&T, this week United Way of the Midlands hosted the nationally recognized GradNation Community Summit at Midlands Technical College Harbison Campus.

The summit, one of 100 held around the nation, brought together local education, business, and student leaders to examine challenges and solutions for improving high school graduation rates and preparing young people for success in post-secondary education.

“We are excited to be a part of such a unique opportunity for the community to come together and assess the best path forward for improving graduation rates for young people in the Midlands,” said United Way President and CEO Mac Bennett. “At United Way, we believe that education is an essential building block to a successful life, so this partnership was a natural fit for us.”

The summit featured keynote addresses from Dr. Joe Hendershott and Dr. Shelley Stewart, as well as an address from South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. Hendershott has an extensive background working with at-risk and wounded youth and has authored two books: “Reaching the Wounded Student” and “7 Ways to Transform the Lives of Wounded Students.”  Stewart is the president and founder of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, a national non-profit dedicated to reducing the drop-out rate.

The premier sponsor of the national GradNation Community Summits initiative is AT&T, whose support is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to graduate more students from high school ready for college and career.

“Graduation from high school is the first, essential milestone in a person’s education journey,” said Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina. “Whether a student plans to continue with college or move directly into the workplace, their diploma represents the discipline, self-confidence and accomplishment that are foundations for ongoing success. AT&T believes that by supporting programs which help students stay on track for graduation, we are investing in the future of our country and our communities.”

Local sponsors include Midlands Education & Business Alliance, Midlands Technical College, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

“The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people,”  said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the event in Columbia are rallying points for communities. America’s Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Midlands and communities across the country to help advance this campaign.”

For more information, visit www.GradNation.org.

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