Several years ago, Tom Tillapaugh (founder of DSS) was increasingly troubled by the growing number of homeless youth in Denver, CO. One day, he simply started approaching homeless youth, most of the high school dropouts, and offered to help them get a high school degree by starting a school just for the most threatened youth of the area.
As a freelance videographer, Cally Wolk of Mediapalette first made a film for Denver StreetSchool several years ago as part of a larger production for The Alternative high School initiative. Recently, Cally went back to Denver and made a new film about this effective, and very caring organization.
America is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Literally 50% of all minority youth are dropping out before graduating from high school. In our urban cores, this number rises to 70%. Concurrently, 80-90 % of all those who are incarcerated are high school dropouts. Simple math shows us that, if something isn't done to intervene, there will continue to grow in America a burgeoning underclass of the undereducated, much more likely to commit and be victims of crime, incapable of being self sufficient, and unequipped to fully participate in the American Dream.
The success of the Denver Street School has gone far beyond Colorado. Through the National Association of Street Schools, the DSS model is now replicated all over the nation in thirty-one cities in twenty-one states. The DSS model of interventionist education is nationally recognized through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Alternative High School Initiative.
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