Dropout Prevention

Helping students graduate


of Central Texas middle school students’ waking hours are spent outside of school


Middle school students who are held back are 7 times more likely to dropout

$154 billion

Each class of dropouts will cost the nation $154 billion in unrealized lifetime earnings

The opportunity to attend college and choose a career path should not be determined by where a child grows up. As demographics of the Greater Austin area shift due to rapid growth, the opportunity gap between students in low-income households and students in medium to high-income households widens. In order to boost the high school graduation rate in Central Texas, UWATX focuses on providing intervention services to positively impact individual student performance, as well as the culture of learning in schools.

Our dropout prevention initiatives, collectively known as our “Target Graduation” program, provides intervention and support services to prepare students for success in school, work and life.

VPL kids

Middle School Matters

In 2011, we launched our Target Graduation pilot project, Middle School Matters (MSM), aimed at improving services at three local middle schools: Webb, Mendez and Decker. More than 87% of students at each of these schools are economically disadvantaged.

We know that each student is different and therefore has individual needs. A specific combination of services may greatly improve the life of one student, but would not be effective for another.

We provide campuses with a framework to ensure the wide array of services available for students, including behavioral health, case management, mentoring, tutoring, out-of-school time and parent education, meet the specific needs of each student. While services have historically been available on these campuses, MSM facilitates the relationship between the campus and service providers to ensure efficiency, and the funding to make it happen.

MSM aims to not only improve outcomes for individual students, but to also promote a campus-wide culture of success. To date, we have invested over $3 million in proven programs and services, and students, faculty and families are seeing real results.

70% of teachers at the three campuses reported seeing a positive change in an individual student receiving support due to MSM, and 90% think these support services enhance academic performance. View the most recent results of our Target Graduation program. 

Out-of-School Time

Middle school students in Texas spend more than 75% of their waking hours outside of school– this provides a huge opportunity to continue learning in other arenas besides the classroom.

Through our out-of-school time (OST) work, UWATX strives to improve the quality, availability and efficiency of youth development programs in Central Texas. We are engaging community partners, families and students to create a coordinated OST system that will provide high quality, sustainable and age-appropriate programs where they are needed most.

Our out-of-school time initiatives include:

  • Youth Program Quality (YPQ): We lead and coordinate this initiative to constantly improve the quality of OST programs, by assessing and leading trainings for OST professionals. For more information or to register for a training or assessment, visit our events calendar.
  • Summer Learning: Limited access to summer learning opportunities is a leading factor that contributes to the achievement gap between high and low-income students. To prevent summer learning loss, we fund 6-week, full-day summer learning camps at two of our target campuses. Last summer, we delivered 9,520 hours of high-quality programming to more than 100 students.
Ready to change lives?

Every day in Austin, we’re working to ensure each child has access to high-quality education, every family has the tools they need to be financially stable, and health and human services are readily available for all.

Sign up for News