Target Graduation


Getting students to graduate


Number of waking hours Central Texas middle school students spend outside of school.


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

1 in 3

Number of students that attend high schools in UWATX’s target neighborhoods do NOT graduate.

In order to boost the lagging high-school graduation rate in Central Texas, Target Graduation focuses on broad, system-wide interventions to positively impact not just individual student performance but the culture of learning in schools and programs. The program develops and coordinates systems, which emphasize collaboration to prepare students for success in college, work and life.

As the demographics of the Greater Austin area shift, the achievement gap between students of different ethnic and income populations widens. This gap begins early and is greatly exacerbated as students age if appropriate interventions aren’t utilized. By engaging stakeholders across the Greater Austin area, Target Graduation coordinates multiple services to address this problem.


Middle School Matters

In 2011, Target Graduation launched the pilot project, Middle School Matters (MSM), creating and refining a system of broad-spectrum services to change the trajectory of three high-need middle schools. At Webb, Mendez and Decker, MSM coordinates a wide array of evidence-based services, including behavioral health, case management, mentoring, tutoring, out-of-school time and parent education, and provides campuses with a system for ensuring these services are available to meet the specific needs of students. While services have historically been available on these campuses, the coordinated system that Middle School Matters brings facilitates a relationship between the campus and service providers to more efficiently use them for greater impact.

Working closely with campus administration and local nonprofit agencies, MSM strategically funds to saturate the campuses with the services necessary to remove barriers to learning, helping students to graduate high school prepared for college, work and life.

By implementing a framework to support service delivery and investing $1 million in proven programs and services, MSM aims to not only improve outcomes for individual students, but to promote a campus-wide culture of success.


Out-of-School Time

Middle school students in Texas spend more than 75% of their waking hours outside of the classroom – this provides a huge opportunity to implement supplemental community programs that encourage positive youth development. Through its out-of-school time work, United Way strives to improve the quality, availability and outcomes of development programs in Central Texas. In 2011, UWATX was one of 10 organizations nationally to receive funding for the purpose of developing an Out-of-School Time (OST) Action Agenda. By engaging community partners, families and students, United Way is identifying community priorities to create a unified and coordinated OST system that will allow high quality, sustainable, developmentally appropriate programs to be available where they are needed.

In an effort to ensure children have access to high-quality OST programs, UWATX leads and coordinates the Youth Program Quality initiative, a comprehensive continuous quality improvement system for OST programs. For more information or to register for a training or assessment, visit our events calendar.

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.

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