CenterPoint Volunteers Pitch In to Help Get Dropouts Back in School

Company representatives staff phone bank the week before annual Grads Within Reach walk

September 08, 2011

Nearly two dozen employees from CenterPoint Energy brought their skills of persuasion to HISD headquarters on September 6 and 7 to call the homes of high school students who had not yet returned to class for this school year.

CenterPoint Energy representatives have volunteered for the Grads Within Reach phone bank since the program began five years ago, in the hopes of convincing dropouts to come back to school and earn their high school diplomas.

“It is very difficult to get a good job without at least a high school diploma,” explained CenterPoint Energy Program Manager Veronica Guillory. “We know that these students are our future employees, so it is important to make sure they receive a good education. When we give presentations, we emphasize that high school is just a springboard for a life of learning; but for us, high school graduates provide a great pool from which to select potential employees.”

“This is just the first step in recovering students,” added Student Engagement Coordinator Jesse Marché. “But we are excited that these efforts have led to an increased awareness of the options available to obtain credits for graduation (such as Grad Labs and Twilight classes). The result is fewer dropouts.”

The most common issues students cite for dropping out are related to economics. Many feel torn between their education and the need to work to help support their families or to provide childcare, in some cases.

“Because there are still so many students who need assistance, we will continue this effort. But thanks to partners such as CenterPoint Energy, we are making progress,” said Marché.

The Grads Within Reach walk is the highlight of yearlong efforts to keep students in HISD schools. Those efforts have spurred a 5.3% decrease in the number of students dropping out of HISD schools since 2006.