One of the things we are working on right now is building partnerships with community organizations so that we may combine our resources and offer more opportunities for our students and their parents. This is a key element of the proposed Strategic Plan.
Macon Children's Promise Neighborhood (MCPN) is one of the groups we are working with as we focus on increasing the graduation rate in Bibb County. The MCPN was awarded a $500,000 planning grant from the Department of Education to develop a five-year strategic plan that will focus its efforts on education in the Tindall Heights and Unionville areas of Macon. Work would begin with Ingram-Pye and Hartley elementary schools, and the schools those students go on to attend, Ballard-Hudson Middle School and Southwest High School. MCPN will identify youth in these neighborhoods and provide them and their families with support services and educational enrichment opportunities, which would be aligned with the Bibb County School District's Strategic Plan.
Next fall, MCPN plans to apply for an implementation grant for its strategic plan. With an implementation grant, MCPN could receive as much as $6 million a year for the next five years to work toward its goal of increasing the graduation rate. This goal is the same goal we hope to accomplish with the District's proposed Strategic Plan.
One of the reasons that MCPN is focusing on these schools is because of the low graduation rate associated with the neighborhood's high school. Last year about two-thirds of the students who began attendance at Southwest High School in the ninth grade in 2007 either dropped out or did not graduate on time with their class. MCPN will work within these neighborhoods to provide services to young children that will pay off long-term by ensuring more of them graduate on time, and beyond that, they pursue a college education. This initiative aligns directly with the goals of the proposed Strategic Plan and with the District's mission to ensure all students are college ready by graduation.
By partnering with groups such as MCPN, we will be able to combine and stretch our resources to create even more opportunities within the District. MCPN is also being supported by other groups we hope to partner with, including Mercer University, Central Georgia Technical College, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. As a community, we must think about the long-term benefits that initiatives such as the MCPN and the proposed Strategic Plan will offer our children. There is no reason our community should be willing to accept that only one-third of the students from one of our District's high schools graduated on time. We must work in unity to find new ways of reaching all children so that they develop goals that include a diploma and post-secondary education.