Back On Track
The Back on Track initiative is a partnership between 90% by 2020, Anchorage School District (ASD), United Way of Anchorage (UWA), and Covenant House Alaska. It allows high school students at high risk of not graduating to earn the credits they need to earn their high school diploma. What makes Back on Track unique is the flexibility to allow students to learn at their own pace at a time that works best for them, while also providing one-on-one support and access to non-academic services they may need. If a student needs help with housing, transportation, food, counseling, or anything else, Back on Track has staff and resources available to help. That way, students can focus on school, learning, and earning their diploma.
United Way of Anchorage was awarded $750,000 over 2 years through the AT&T Aspire Grant to help fund this initiative, with additional support provided by ASD, UWA and BP.
So far this school year, Back on Track has helped 62 students earn their high school diplomas, and it has served 249 secondary students. Those numbers are already growing now that summer school is underway.
Check out some of our amazing Back on Track graduate stories below!
Danielle went to her neighborhood high school from ninth to twelfth grade, but due to a turbulent home life, she found it hard to make it to school and complete her work. Over the years, the stress of her circumstance caused Danielle to drop out of school multiple times and culminated in being left without a home. She was referred to Covenant House as a sanctuary from homelessness, and she enrolled in Back on Track.
As a returning high school student, Danielle found Back on Track’s flexible hours, self-paced schoolwork, and supportive staff to be important part to getting back on her feet. She earned the credits needed to graduate within a month and gained the confidence to move past personal challenges and achieve her goals. Now, Danielle is a resident at Covenant House’s transitional living program, Rights of Passage. She is an aspiring artist and board game designer and is hopeful about her future.
Kennedy came to the Back on Track program after dropping out of high school in her senior year. The strain of having to provide for herself, coupled with lack of confidence in her academic abilities took a toll on her and decided school wasn’t worth the struggle. Her school counselor referred her to Back on Track where she found support for students facing challenging situations, and she enrolled in the night class.
The program worked well with Kennedy’s circumstances. Its flexibility allowed her to both pursue education and make a living, and the self-paced classes gave her the option to complete assignments from home when work and class times conflicted. Not only did the program allow Kennedy an alternative path to earning her diploma, it fostered confidence in her ability to learn and succeed academically as well. At first hesitant of her writing and reading skills, Kennedy worked with the Back on Track staff individually until she felt proud of her work and her ability to do it well. Now that she has accomplished getting a high school diploma, Kennedy is motivated to enroll in beauty school this fall to become a hairdresser and esthetician. Of the Back on Track program, she says, “Overall, my experience was incredible. The teachers were helpful, the other students were polite, and the schoolwork was challenging but not too challenging. I would recommend the program to anyone in a similar situation as me. I was lucky to be able to join Back on Track”.
Christian liked his neighborhood high school for the most part, but sometimes found himself distracted by the other students. In his senior year, Christian's life circumstances changed, and his girlfriend gave birth to their child. He left school to work and support his family, but came to realize that he needed to continue his education to get a better job. He got in touch with ASD staff and was referred to the Back on Track program to finish up his remaining credits. Christian liked how the program let him focus specifically on the credits he needed. Last October, he completed his high school diploma and was able to walk across the stage at AVAIL’s graduation in May. Christian is now applying to technical schools to pursue a career as a mechanic or carpenter.
"The Back on Track program was a blessing. Going was the best decision I’ve made in quite a while. Previously at Bartlett, I faced some hardships and my grades went down as a result. I wasn’t sure if I would even graduate as my attendance was also diminishing alongside my motivation. I was given the chance to redeem myself by enrolling in Back on Track and I promised myself that I would graduate no matter what. Back on Track has strengthened my desire to finish and get my diploma. It offers students many positive actions towards graduating. I wasn’t able to get rides every day at Bartlett - it was a constant struggle - but Back on Track made it so much easier to attend. I only had a handful of credits left and the work provided was great, I was able to learn how to balance school and work. I definitely have an open pathway to success due to the second chance I was given. I will use the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my educational career and apply it to the real world."