JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--()--Health information network Availity is being honored today by Communities in Schools of Jacksonville for its commitment and service to Ribault Middle School through United Way of Northeast Florida’s Achievers for Life program. The award reception will begin at 6 p.m. today at the Times-Union Building on 1 Riverside Avenue.
“The impact of mentoring in United Way’s Achievers for Life program ensures that students identified as low academic achievers will graduate from high school to pursue a college education, career, or military.”
Russ Thomas, CEO of Availity, will accept the “Corporate Partner of the Year” award from Communities in Schools for committing a four-year sponsorship to the Achievers for Life dropout prevention program. In addition to its financial contribution, Availity has committed to a full partnership with the school through mentoring, activities and contributing technical training through the school’s technology department.
Availity began its partnership with Ribault Middle School last year, and employee volunteers have thus far added landscaping to the school grounds, facilitated a health and fitness activity day, held a school supply drive and launched a mentoring program. There are currently 36 Availity associates mentoring sixth-grade students on a regular basis – the most mentors from any single company in Jacksonville, according to Communities in Schools. All mentors have made a one-year commitment to the program.
“As a company, we are committed to enriching the communities in which we work by contributing our time and our treasure,” Thomas said. “Public/private partnerships to improve education are a great way to build sustainable communities; Working with Ribault Middle School and Achievers for Life is an ideal partnership.”
Achievers for Life is a United Way-sponsored community initiative focused on dropout prevention, targeting sixth grade students who are at risk for academic failure. The program consists of one-on-one mentoring and counseling for students, family support services, and parent training to increase family engagement at school. Since implementing Achievers for Life in 2007, United Way has seen measureable results – school absences decreased by 13 percent, participants’ grade-point averages improved 12 percent, and students were promoted to the next grade at a rate of 96 percent.
The 2012-2013 school year is the first year that Achievers for Life has been active in Ribault Middle School, which was made possible by Availity’s commitment to the program.
“Businesses have a key role to play in the outcome of our community. Without an educated workforce, there will be a limited pool of talent and drive to grow companies,” said Lauren Cowman, coordinator of mentoring and volunteer services for Communities in Schools of Jacksonville. “The impact of mentoring in United Way’s Achievers for Life program ensures that students identified as low academic achievers will graduate from high school to pursue a college education, career, or military.”
The Kufeldt Lighthouse Award for “Corporate Partner of the Year” award is Communities in Schools of Jacksonville’s highest honor. The award was named in honor of James Kufeldt, the former president of Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., and his wife Anne, who were both mentors and supporters of Communities in Schools of Jacksonville.
Communities in Schools of Jacksonville has been providing dropout prevention services to students in Duval County for more than 21 years. The program annually serves more than 6,600 students in 45 schools with mentoring, scholarship, literacy, enrichment and after-school programs.
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