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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Income inequality and poverty-stricken households significantly influence the demise of a local community. And a low-income community driven by under-educated individuals actually perpetuates this fiscal depression. For example, a primary reason that the U.S. economy is growing but the traditional "all boats will rise" prosperity phenomena has not happened is a direct result of the millions of people outside the economic mainstream who lack the skills and opportunity to exploit this middle-skills gap moment. Regrettably, the consequences of poverty are impeding community growth, from poor health and hunger to lost productivity and steep economic deficits.
At a typical career college, about 40 percent of students drop out before completing their training, according to Complete College America.1  While this is clearly a problem for the students, it also costs the colleges a lot of money. Estimates provided by a group of six retention experts polled by Career College Central report that lost revenue due to attrition can be as much as $3,000 per student, if the student drops in the first quarter. To break it down further, the report drew a portrait of the average per-dropout costs of attrition; assuming a career college's average monthly tuition is $1,200, the average time to graduate is 14 months, and most dropouts occur during the first half of the term, schools lose at least seven months of revenue, equating $8,400, per dropout.1
Through education, at-risk youth can be transformed into high school graduates armed with academic and professional capabilities and better social and civic skills. Education is the catalyst for bottom-up change and can become the epicenter in successful communities. The high school diploma serves as the most important impetus for driving personal and communal change. Educate our youth, and our communities will flourish. In fact, it can be argued that the successful graduation of even a single student de-risks a family unit and can amplify their impact by encouraging others to become contributing members of society. The power of example demonstrated by just a one individual graduating high school can begin to galvanize a single building or street. At scale, it can help build workforces with higher productivity, leading to lower poverty and reduced crime rates.
As you may know, South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film and music festivals and interactive conferences that take place every spring in Austin, Texas. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in size every year, and last year exceeded 12,000 people.  Recently they added a track on education and have created a one-of-a-kind event where innovative leaders come together to change how we teach and learn, and to discuss the future of American education and career training. 
The pursuit of education, from earning a high school diploma to graduating college, is never an easy endeavor, especially for re-engaging students and nontraditional learners. A multitude of factors can affect the education attainment levels of someone struggling to go to or stay in school, including family life, social influences, unsupportive toxic surroundings, misguided direction, and lack of awareness of alternatives.
Educating our nation's youth requires ongoing involvement and support from education leaders. Although earning a high school diploma and enrolling in college are triumphant milestones for a student to reach, more of these students are failing to matriculate, faltering in the transitional period after graduation and before the first day of college classes. These college-enrolled students who never show up to campus comprise a phenomenon knownas "summer melt." During the summer months leading up to college, several factors can derail a student from actually stepping foot on campus in the fall, despite their academic ambition and college eligibility.

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