University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Check & Connect Community Sites in the News

The following news stories highlight just a few of the many retention programs implementing Check & Connect across the U.S. and abroad (all links open in a new window):


Boys & Girls Club seeks mentors in Peoria: Volunteers keep at-risk youth on path to graduation
Peoria Times • October 4, 2013 This recent article describes Be Great: Graduate, Boys & Girls Clubs of America's adaptation of Check & Connect, as it is being implemented in Peoria, AZ. Boys & Girls Clubs are so good at building relationships with kids that C&C/Be Great: Graduate is a natural fit!
See related research project: BE GREAT: Graduate: Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Adaptation of Check & Connect


San Diego has lowest dropout rate among large school districts
Times of San Diego • April 28, 2014"The San Diego Unified School District [where Check & Connect is being researched] had the lowest dropout rate and the second-highest graduation rate among California's nine largest urban districts in the last academic year, according to a state report released Monday....The superintendent listed four programs that have helped prevent dropouts, and said she hopes to expand them in the future. The programs are the Check and Connect pilot program, graduation coaches at many high schools, the Linked Learning Initiative schools, and the district-wide College Career and Technical Education program."
See related research project: American Institutes for Research: Assessing the Efficacy of Check & Connect for Improving Outcomes for At-Risk High School Students

San Diego Schools use mentoring to keep at-risk students on graduation track KPBS • September 7, 2012 "When California released dropout and graduation data for the class of 2011 earlier this summer, San Diego city schools stood out. The district’s dropout rate was just 5.9 percent. The next best rate for a large, urban school district in the state was 10.6 percent. According to school officials, part of the district's success comes from combing through data to identify and reach out to students like Jesus Najera..."
See related research project: American Institutes for Research: Assessing the Efficacy of Check & Connect for Improving Outcomes for At-Risk High School Students


Program connects students to school: Check & Connect designed to prevent kids from dropping out The Durango Herald • November 3, 2010 "An intervention program aimed at promoting student engagement and retention is beginning this year in nine school districts across southwest Colorado, including Durango, Ignacio, and Bayfield. The program, called Check & Connect, targets students who are at risk of dropping out and pairs them with trained mentors."
In related news, this article from the Durango Herald (August 12, 2011) mentions how Montezuma/Cortez schools utilize Americorps volunteers as Check & Connect mentors.
See related community spotlight: Southwest Colorado Regional Implementation of Check & Connect


SAVE receives boost in funding from state
The Hour • August 2, 2014"Incoming Norwalk High School junior Cedric Thigpen readily admits that he had been following the wrong path in terms of grades and academic motivation in his initial year at the school. Things turned around in his sophomore year, however, since Thigpen has participated in Check & Connect, a local mentor-based program dedicated to foster school completion and boost academic performance among 25 at-risk freshman and sophomores."


Port Charlotte Middle: Myriad paths, 'ONE’ goal
Cox Media Group • February 25, 2016Charlotte Public Schools is one of many districts across the state of Florida implementing Check & Connect. A school principal in the district has this to say about their efforts to serve students and be the best in the state: "Each adult in our corner of the educational community, from teachers, to office staff, cafe crew and maintenance workers, are one team dedicated to educating our young people to develop the will to amplify what is right, each and every day. That may be expressed in a positive attitude, a smile of support given to a peer, or even in the tiniest of gestures like holding the door for someone. We are all working collectively at empowering PCMS students to develop their talents, skills, passions and intellectual abilities for use in effecting change for the betterment of their school and community. We work to instill in them a sense of citizenship and responsibility." Way to go Port Charlotte!

United Way's Check & Connect program: Investing in the future
Business in the Heart of Florida • June 3, 2014 "...The Check & Connect Program helps students with repeat occurrences of absenteeism or behavioral issues and report cards with "D" and "F" grades as well as students with no hope of graduating or of obtaining more than a "dead-end" job. The program was [first implemented] in 2012, when United Way of North Central Florida became the only United Way in the country to receive a two-year $300,000 grant from AT&T."
See also Check & Connect: United Way of North Central Florida

AT&T, United Way team up to lower high-school dropout rate in Alachua County
WUFT • September 20, 2012 "AT&T awarded a $300,000 grant to help the United Way of North Central Florida lower the high-school dropout rate in Alachua County. The telecommunication giant introduced AT&T Aspire, a program aimed at helping students from at-risk families, Thursday at Gainesville High School. Check and Connect, the program’s major initiative, will pair specialized mentors and counselors with students and families in poverty."
In related news, this article from PR Newswire (September 20, 2012) provides more information about this grant.


DeKalb County Schools works to shrink dropout rates
WSB-TV Atlanta • April 27, 2016WSB-TV highlights how Georgia's DeKalb County Schools are using Check & Connect to offer a personal approach for helping students succeed in school. Exciting to hear that Mary Mcleod Bethune Middle School's discipline referrals were cut in half in this first year of implementation. Thank you C&C mentors for helping these students, and Darnell Logan, Ed.D. for spearheading this effort at DCS!

Checking and connecting: Logan, '02, helps students stay on track to graduate
UMN-CEHD Featured Alumni • October 2014"Logan is the coordinator of psychological services for Atlanta Public Schools, a system with roughly 100 schools and 50,000 students. He supervises all 22 of the district's school psychologists and 16 student advocates. In addition, he is the district coordinator of positive behavior and intervention support (PBIS). Every day he is involved in meetings, crisis interventions, consultations, and addressing district-level disciplinary concerns.... In 2011, Logan was hired into his current position. And this fall, he was excited to bring Check & Connect to Atlanta Public Schools. The 16 student advocates he now supervises are Check & Connect mentors, joining Logan and his team to help students stay on track to graduate."


Joliet D-204 board receives overview of mental health services
The Herald News • May 16, 2017"Joliet High School District 204 officials were given an overview of a mental health services program at the district. Several agencies are involved in the Youth Experiencing Success in School, or YESS, program at the district, which has been helping hundreds of students with social and emotional needs since 2005 when it was established.... All students who were referred to Chestnut Health System but did not participate in a program received prevention and intervention with student assistance coordinators. The students are either serviced with a check and connect system, individual sessions or referral to the district’s Problem Solving Circles program, according to the presentation."

Using mentors to prevent dropouts: IPR economist leads study of Chicago Public Schools mentorship program
Northwestern University - Institute for Policy Research (IPR) • 2013 "If disengaged elementary and middle school students had long-term links to adult mentors, would they be more likely to engage in school and their academic futures? IPR economist Jonathan Guryan is leading a research team studying how to strengthen student engagement in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by providing hundreds of students with such adult mentors through a program called Check & Connect. Working closely with CPS, he will assess the program's impact on truancy and learning outcomes, with the goal of increasing attendance and graduation rates."
See related research project: Preventing Truancy in Urban Schools: The Chicago Public School and National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago

CPS head targets K-8 'dropout pipeline' Chicago Tribune • December 11, 2012"Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett vowed Monday to move forcefully to address the city's crisis in K-8 truancy and absenteeism, declaring: 'We must work to shut down the dropout pipeline.'...Byrd-Bennett said she would expand 'Check & Connect,' a small-scale program that in Chicago pairs trained mentors with roughly 450 truant elementary students and has shown signs of promise in its second year."
In related news, this article from Catalyst Chicago (December 11, 2012) reprints that information in its Notebook column.
See related research project: Preventing Truancy in Urban Schools: The Chicago Public School and National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago


Mentoring program teaching students life lessons at Pipe Creek: Administrators aim to give students role models, positive relationships
Kokomo Tribune • Jauary 13, 2017"A new mentor program at Pipe Creek Elementary School is pairing students with community members and school staff members. The program, called Check and Connect, involves about eight mentors who meet with Pipe Creek students individually on a regular basis. During their meetings, the mentors encourage and teach the students, and help them make good choices in and out of school. 'We really like the program, and we would like to see it grow,' said Pipe Creek Principal Laura Fulton. Fulton said the program serves about 10 students currently. She also said the program is not necessarily for students with behavioral struggles, but rather for students who need a positive relationship or 'words of encouragement.'”

Court leaders address youth gang violence • July 1, 2016"In order to help [teenage gang members, Allen County Juvenile Center (ACJC) judge Daniel Heath] believes people have to rebuild the family structure, emphasize education and find something good for the kids to aspire to. He hopes ACJC initiatives like Check & Connect, which utilizes trained mentors to cut down on skipping school, and BrightSteps, which helps develop promising young children, will help in the long run."

Nonprofit status will ease donations to juvenile centerThe Journal Gazette • May 14, 2015"The Allen County Juvenile Justice Center has a nonprofit arm now, allowing it to take donations for a variety of programs it has running – and plans to run – to serve area youth. According to Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath, part of the court’s Family Relations Division and presiding judge at the center, the need for a foundation became apparent within the past few months when corporations wanted to donate to some of the programs. The center’s fledgling Check & Connect anti-truancy program has been seeing good results since its implementation last fall at Fort Wayne Community Schools. Donors with the Waterfield Foundation and the Chapman Fund wanted to make a gift to the program, but it was more complicated than they thought. “We didn’t have a place for them to write the check,” Heath said. So he gathered together a “pretty formidable board,” formed a 501(c)3 organization called The Friends of the Allen County Juvenile Center Inc., attained nonprofit status and built a website –"

Schools in state defer calling law: [IN] Rank 37th nationally in study; local program [C&C] reduces truancy
The Journal Gazette • April 19, 2015"Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath, who runs the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center... said, 'A kid who doesn’t go to school, who has all the time during the day to sit around, has a better chance of getting into trouble with the law than a student attending school.' So he quickly went to work implementing a pilot program called Check & Connect.... The program matches trained mentors to at-risk students attending several high schools throughout the Fort Wayne Community and East Allen Community school districts in an effort to stamp out truancy. In February [2015], Heath announced the results so far of the pilot program: Suspensions among the 60 Fort Wayne Community Schools students in the program dropped 60 percent last fall, and tardiness dropped 41 percent, Heath told The Journal Gazette at the time. 'Ours is a pilot, it’s small,' Heath said of the program. 'The numbers are very promising.'”

Pilot program to aid truants shows results
The Journal Gazette • February 26, 2015"...The pilot [Check & Connect] program, which matches specially trained mentors with students identified as at-risk for truancy, has caused a noticeable improvement in attendance rates among the initial 60 students spread throughout North Side, South Side and Wayne high schools. The program is small but can, and likely will, expand. Looking at the numbers so far, Heath said he expects the program to continue to be successful."

Program successful in getting kids to school
WANE-TV News Channel 15 • February 25, 2015Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath has been instrumental in getting Check & Connect implemented in Fort Wayne, IN. This news clip shows some data (participating students showed a 62% decline in suspensions, 41% drop in tardies, and 20% drop in absences), as well as a sound byte from Judge Heath himself: “It’s very gratifying, very heartening. We are literally changing lives through this program in the sense that we’re changing what kids have done and where they would have been – committing crime, that kind of thing. Instead they’re in school.”

FLIPPING the SCRIPT: Innovative truancy effort keyed to prevention, not punishment
The Journal Gazette • September 28, 2014 "...At a time when the justice system is taking hits for shuffling kids from school to jail, Check & Connect, the program adopted by the Allen County Juvenile Court, is about mentoring and refocusing freshmen who've already been identified as truancy risks from middle school, rather than relying on punitive measures that have not worked."

FWCS (Fort Wayne County Schools), EACS (East Allen County Schools) tackling truancy issues
WFFT Fox Local / • May 29, 2014"Every year, thousands of Allen County students are skipping school and putting a burden on our juvenile legal system. Allen County Superior Court Judge Daniel Heath is hoping to change that by teaming up with local school districts to bring in a new program designed to get them back in school and out of the courts. It's called 'Check & Connect' and it's been implemented in schools all across the country."

New program aims to break link between truancy and crime
News-Sentinel • December 19, 2013"Allen Superior Court Judge Heath is beginning a program designed to break what several studies suggest is a strong link between truancy and juvenile crime. In the 'Check & Connect' program, developed at the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, mentors intervene with truant students to keep them in the classroom. Heath said in a statement the program has proven effective in improving attendance and grades in other cities, "and we hope that not only will more kids have a better life, but also that crime will be reduced in our community."


Dubuque students have success in new mentoring program
KCRG • January 7, 2016 Some students in Dubuque can now get mentoring help through a national program called "Check and Connect." The program pairs high school students with those studying at Loras College.


Check & Connect Funded by United Way of the Plains in Wichita, KS
The Wichita Eagle • November 20, 2015Despite falling short of their annual fundraising goal, United Way of the Plains is funding Check & Connect in 7 Wichita elementary schools. Jessica Smith, a Check & Connect coordinator at Franklin Elementary, related a story about three students being raised by their 70-year-old grandmother, who had health issues, felt overwhelmed and struggled with getting the children to school. "The new Check & Connect program “gives me the time and resources to help a parent understand the need for their child to be present and on time as well as to have a structured daily routine,” she said. “I’m excited to see the outcomes reached by each student by the end of this school year.” We are super proud of the leadership, teaching, and mentoring staff in Wichita elementary schools for addressing attendance and engagement at an early age. Keep up the good work!

Seven Wichita elementary schools get grant to help address absenteeismThe Wichita Eagle • May 19, 2015"...The United Way grant will be focused on reducing chronic absenteeism among preschoolers through third-graders at seven Wichita schools: Dodge, Franklin, Gardiner, Harry Street, Lawrence, Payne and Stanley. Communities in Schools plans to employ Check & Connect, a nationally recognized intervention program in which school-based mentors work with students and their families to identify reasons for chronic absenteeism and work to overcome them. The program will focus on primary grades, “because what starts out in kindergarten just continues as you go on,” said Hanrahan, the United Way president."


Q&A: Get to know Kennedy Hannah
The State Journal • June 20, 2016An inspiring story of one Check & Connect mentor/coordinator in Kentucky who was hired in 2015 after he graduated from Kentucky State University at the Promising Youth Center.

U of M's "Check & Connect" program tackles problem of school dropouts: New grant will expand program to include community college students in Minneapolis and Kentucky University of Minnesota News • March 31, 2009 From the University of Minnesota's UMNews Service: "The U of M’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) in the College of Education and Human Development has been successfully combating the [dropout] problem in K-12 education in Minnesota and around the country with its targeted 'Check & Connect' program. Now, a new research project at ICI has begun work to expand the Check & Connect model into postsecondary education for use with students ages 18-30 who are at risk of dropping out of community college."
See related research project: Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Students in Postsecondary Education


Amesbury launches mentor program for at-risk kids
Wicked Local NewburyPort • January 26, 2018“'Holly and Kelsey Chandonnet were especially moved by the potential of Check & Connect to influence students of all ages by training mentors, who will have a long-lasting impact,' said AEFI grants chairperson Patty Hoyt.... On March 21 and March 22, 10 police officers and 10 teachers will be trained by Check & Connect to work with students on school grounds during, before, or after school programming, or during school functions."

Failure rate declines at Pittsfield's Taconic High School
The Berkshire Eagle • March 21, 2013 "Targeted efforts to help students succeed as they transition into Taconic High School seem to be paying off. . . the Check and Connect and Student Ambassador programs are providing a mentoring component that is showing results. With Check and Connect, a national program model aimed at keeping students in school, students or adults make contact with new students one or more times during the day -- ensuring they know someone who can provide advice, information and support and encourage academic success."


Live storytelling event to raise funds for Student Advocacy Center
MLive Michigan • April 13, 2015"Storytellers will share tales in a live event to raise funds for the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. 'I hope this helps people understand about school pushout and some of the changes we see every day,' said Prestine Spratt, a student and one of the featured storytellers. The event is 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, April 17, at the Washtenaw Community College's Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor Township. La'Ron Williams, Hakim Crampton, Chris Curtis, Jessica "Decky" Alexander and Student Advocacy Center students will perform at the event. Gordon Wykes, the center's Check & Connect advocate, will host the event. Check & Connect is an intervention program for students who are disconnected from school and learning."


Minnesota high school graduation rates rising
StarTribune • February 28, 2018"Minnesota high school graduation rates continued to tick up in 2017 [nearly 83%], but progress stalled in closing a wide gap between the rates for whites and students of color.... St. Paul graduation rates inched up to 77 percent, and the districts made modest headway toward reducing disparities for students of color.... In St. Paul, officials noted that American Indian, Latino, black, and homeless students, as well as English language learners and those eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, outperformed state averages for those groups. They highlighted a “check and connect” approach in which social workers and other mentors check in regularly with special education high schoolers at risk for dropping out...."

Police: Don't hesitate, just make the call
Republican Eagle • February 27, 2018Check & Connect mentors are helping to support at-risk youth and ensure that students are heard in this town of Red Wing, MN where suicide rates are high.

YOU, YOUR KIDS & SCHOOL: Reasons to celebrate as kids head back to school
Hutchinson Leader • August 26, 2017
"...Goals were set to increase achievement for all students, and then action plans were created in order to meet each building’s goals. Some of the discussion points from this meeting are the following: ...Hutchinson Middle School and Hutchinson High School are continuing with Check and Connect, a program where students are receiving extra support for improving attendance."

Graduation gap huge for Native Americans at Fargo-Moorehead high schools
West Fargp Pioneer • May 21, 2017"Moorhead School District is also tackling the graduation gap, says Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent for school improvement and accountability. Moorhead schools use [the] "Check & Connect" mentoring program to support students K-12 and keep them on track for graduation, she said. Like West Fargo, Moorhead also has implemented the Advancement Via Individual Determination program to support students and guide them toward being college or career. The program provides mentoring, career visioning, tutoring, and learning skills such as resume writing and tackling college applications."

Sumner sees success with Check and Connect
Austin Daily Herald • April 26, 2017
"...Sumner became the first Austin school to enact Check & Connect, a program begun at the University of Minnesota in 1990.... Principal Sheila Berger, Check & Connect Coordinator Deborah Cook and success coach Karem Salas Ramirez gave an update to the Austin School Board Monday during a special meeting. The success rate is clear: There has been an overwhelming decrease in behavioral issues; a 78 percent increase in reading levels; and a 54 percent increase in the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), a program that assesses and tracks a young student’s progress."

District 191 graduation rates drop slightly
Savage Pacer • March 3, 2017"The graduation rate has dropped slightly for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District students, according to state data released last week....Also this year the schools launched a district-wide program called 'Check and Connect.' The program gives support to students who have had troubles with behavior, attendance or academic achievement."

American Indian parents want new approach for educating St. Paul students
Twin Cities Pioneer Press • January 16, 2017"Parents want St. Paul Public Schools to change its approach with American Indian students, who consistently post the district’s worst academic outcomes but often are overlooked because of their small numbers....'We’re in crisis mode. Things aren’t getting better,' said Robert Pilot, a tech ed teacher and Check and Connect mentor for American Indian students at Harding High School." The group requested that the district, "Continue funding Check and Connect, which promotes school engagement by assigning students an adult mentor. The federal grant paying for St. Paul’s program expires in summer 2018."

YOU, YOUR KIDS & SCHOOL: Check and Connect keeps students on right track
Hutchinson Leader • December 31, 2016"As a new high school counselor to the district, it has been a welcoming and very positive experience becoming part of the the Hutchinson Tiger Family. Hutchinson High School has many great faculty, programs and students. Specifically, there are many faculty who are involved with a handful of support programs that extend services and supports to students who need them. I am happy to be a coordinator and trainer of a particular program called Check and Connect."

Improving Learning for Pregnant and Parenting Teens
Pearson Learning News • December 12, 2016 Two Check & Connect Monitors at Longfellow High School, an alternative school program serving pregnant and parenting teens, are serving with the AmericCorps Promise Fellow program. They’re placed by the Minnesota Alliance With Youth and their service is highlighted and amplified by a GradNation State Activation grant from Pearson and America’s Promise Alliance. "I feel like this is the real-est job I’ll ever have in my life," one monitor says. "These students teach me a lot more than I could ever teach them."

School attendance matters
Austin Herald • October 7, 2016 "Last year, Sumner Elementary decided to look at alternatives to punishment for students that are frequently absent.... As the school examined possible solutions, one program from the University of Minnesota rose to the top of the considerations. Check & Connect, a comprehensive student engagement intervention, was started this year.... Early results appear to be having a positive effect on student engagement. Hopefully these strong relationships at school will also cause an increase in daily attendance rates." 

Reducing chronic school absenteeism should be high on school and community priority lists
StarTribune • September 18, 2016"...To their credit, many metro-area districts are working on keeping kids in class. Last week, St. Paul kicked off its School Attendance Matters (SAM) program, which includes working with the Ramsey County attorney’s office and the community. Minneapolis has a long-standing Check and Connect effort that uses some staff members and AmeriCorps interns to work with families when kids miss school. And Minneapolis is one of about 30 urban districts that is addressing attendance issues with the help of a national White House effort to reduce school absences...."

Back here where we need ya; Students return to the halls for the 2016-17 school year
Austin Herald • September 6, 2016 "Sumner Elementary School... is using a new program this year to check on students who may be at risk of dropping out. Sumner became the first Austin (MN) school to enact Check & Connect... 'Our ultimate goal is to keep kids in school,' Sumner Principal Shelia Berger said. Berger said the program seems promising. 'This program has a very strong research background and I am confident that it will do what it is intended to do,' she said."

MN UCEDD Partners with State to Increase Graduation of Black and American Indian Students with Disabilities
AUCD News • September 2, 2016"The Check & Connect program of the Institute on Community Integration (MN UCEDD) has received a five-year, $750,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) for a new project, Using Check & Connect to Improve Graduation Rates in Minnesota for Black and American Indian Students with Disabilities. ... Check & Connect will serve as a targeted or intensive intervention that will complement MDE's Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), coordinating and collaborating with existing practices and supports such as response to intervention (RtI) and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). The project goal is to ensure a comprehensive approach that leads to increasing graduation rates for Black and American Indian students with disabilities in four Minnesota school districts: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Osseo...."

Check & Connect: Keeping kids in school
KARE 11 News • March 15, 2016KARE 11 News highlights how Check & Connect is helping students stay on track for graduation in this video spotlight. Features Check & Connect coordinator Joan Gudorf and her mentee from Harding High School in Saint Paul Public Schools and Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota director David Johnson. Harding High School is one of several schools in St. Paul using Check & Connect to support their students, and Minnesota is one of 35 states across the country using the intervention.

Big boost from state targets Duluth graduation rates
Duluth News Tribune • February 12, 2016"One intervention the district might use is the University of Minnesota's Check and Connect model that works to increase student engagement, said Ron Lake, the district's climate coordinator. Mentors would monitor students' behavior referrals, absences, grades and tardies, and help students solve problems and build skills, and develop a sense of belonging to their school. They would also act as a liaison between home and school, working with families."

For troubled Minnesota youth, a map out of the chaos
MPR News • November 10, 2015"Six years ago on the night before Thanksgiving, Cody Nelson had a chaotic night. With four buddies, he broke into an abandoned house on the east side of St. Paul. After firing at a rival gang for beating up their friend, they returned to the abandoned house to drink, smoke and play a gun game they called "flinch." Nelson thought his gun was out of bullets. "I ended up shooting one of my best friends. Shot and killed him," he said. "I didn't shoot him on purpose." Nelson was 16. His friend, Darion Smith, was 15. After pleading guilty to manslaughter, Nelson served two years in juvenile detention. When he was released, he told a mentor he wanted more than a plan. He wanted a map to stay out of trouble."

U finds ties to mentors, families help keep at-risk kids in school
MPR News • October 8, 2015"The middle school and high school students who Jerome Graham mentors face an uphill battle to make it to graduation. He's the project coordinator for the Map Project, which reaches out to young people held in Ramsey County juvenile correction facilities to try to keep them in school. 'Pretty much all of our students have failing grades or are very seldomly in school,' Graham said. 'There's also some behavior issues, and also they're in the special education program, and also they're impoverished.'"

AVID, Check & Connect headed for expansion
StarTribune • March 17, 2014 "Under a proposal approved Tuesday by the Minneapolis school board, the AVID and Check & Connect programs will get a significant expansion next school year. That shift reflects a greater emphasis in state law for integration aid toward student achievement, especially closing the achievement gap, in addition to the traditional priority of desegregating students by race and income.... Check & Connect works to establish adult-student connections that keep high school students enrolled, including monitoring attendance, grades and credits toward graduation. District research found Check & Connect students 10 percent more likely than similar students to graduate and also significantly less likely to drop out. The program was developed by the University of Minnesota, was introduced in two district high schools in 2003, expanded to all seven high schools in 2007, and expanded to four middle schools last school year."

Harding teachers, staff collaborate to ensure students graduate, close achievement gap
Saint Paul Public Schools • February 28, 2014 Harding Senior High School in St. Paul, MN has multiple initiatives in place, including Check & Connect, to boost graduation rates and shrink the achievement gap between white students and students of color. In 2013, 82% of HHS students graduated, compared with the state's average of 79%.

Dealing with dropping out
Chanhassen Villager • January 29, 2014 Eastern Carver County District 112 offers Check and Connect, a dropout prevention and intervention program, in the district's three middle schools and three high schools. Former Check & Connect coordinator Kay Augustine, now the district's Manager for Youth Engagement and Extended Learning, speaks to the value of Check & Connect to disengaged students. Related district activities and programs are also highlighted.

Willmar Middle School developing mentoring program that aims to keep students in school (archived article requires login access)
West Central Tribune • January 5, 2014"Willmar Middle School has a program that hopes to catch kids before they fall through the cracks and head toward dropping out of school. Check and Connect matches volunteer mentors from the school's staff with kids who seem to need a little guidance in their lives. The program isn't for kids who are in trouble all the time. In fact, some of those chosen for the program aren't troublemakers at all."

Keeping kids in school and engaged: District 191 adopts Check & Connect program
SunThisweek • October 24, 2013Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191 is implementing Check & Connect this year at its junior and senior high schools. Burnsville High Associate Principal Chris Bellmont said he hopes it will be a game-changer for raising attendance among the 5 to 10 percent of students who are chronically absent.

Minneapolis graduation rates continue to climb: Leader letter
Southwest Minneapolis Patch • April 5, 2013 This open letter to "Minneapolis Public Schools partners and friends" from MPS superintendent Bernadeia Johnson reports improving graduation rates, albeit rates that still need to improve. Check & Connect was developed in partnership with MPS and has been implemented there since the 1990s.

Minnesota program aims to help at-risk students
Duluth News Tribune, reprinted in Native American Times • October 31, 2010 "The Duluth program, called Parents and Students Succeeding, is modeled after a University of Minnesota-developed program called Check and Connect, which requires a two-year commitment of mentors. The mentors focus on keeping kids in school and engaged in learning, while monitoring grades and attendance and keeping in close contact with parents."

U of M's "Check & Connect" program tackles problem of school dropouts: New grant will expand program to include community college students in Minneapolis and Kentucky University of Minnesota News • March 31, 2009 From the University of Minnesota's UMNews Service: "The U of M’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) in the College of Education and Human Development has been successfully combating the [dropout] problem in K-12 education in Minnesota and around the country with its targeted 'Check & Connect' program. Now, a new research project at ICI has begun work to expand the Check & Connect model into postsecondary education for use with students ages 18-30 who are at risk of dropping out of community college."
See related research project: Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Students in Postsecondary Education

Making the Connection: ICI aims to keep students in college Institute on Community Integration "fyi" News • March 2009 From a project profile in the Institute on Community Integration's fyi staff newsletter: "Aiming to improve college graduation rates, on March 1, the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) and the University’s Department of Educational Psychology launched 'Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Young Adults in Postsecondary Education,' a two-year research project funded by a $727,237 grant from the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). Making the Connection will study the feasibility of adapting Check & Connect – a K-12 school engagement intervention developed at ICI – to community college settings with students ages 18-30."
See related research project: Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Students in Postsecondary Education


Sedalia 200 sees attendance improve
Sedalia Democrat • January 18, 2016Check & Connect is one of the initiatives credited for helping Sedalia, MO improve their attendance. “One of the most important ways we get students to attend school and keep them coming to school are the one-on-one relationships we build with the students through our Check & Connect program, our seminars and the attendance club.... We want our students to realize that we are there to help them succeed but they have to be in class to receive the best help.”

Carthage High School dropout rate decrease • February 19, 2013 "Carthage High School teacher Rashad Pittman works with students one-on-one as part of the 'Check and Connect' program. 'We take a kid that maybe has a lot of potential but are thinking about dropping out,' states Rashad Pittman, Carthage High School Teacher. Programs like this were created to help more Carthage students pick up their cap and gown."

Technology a new, larger focus in updated plan for district • February 21, 2013 "The Chillicothe R-2 Board of Education approved what Superintendent Dr. Roger Barnes called their 'revamped' Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) on Tuesday night (Feb. 19)....with added emphasis upon Title 1 classrooms, professional development for teachers, the upgrading of the current co-teaching program for grades 2-8, and the Check & Connect Model for grades 9-12."


Communities receive Graduation Matters grants
Billings Gazette • March 30, 2016We're excited to hear that the United Way of Yellowstone County in Billings, MT won funds for training and implementation of Check & Connect, as well as the Montana Behavioral Initiative and a Reader Tutor Mentor program. This grant is part of Montana's Graduation Matters program, which targets improving the state's graduation rates.

Helena school officials and faculty go the extra mile for good attendance • November 13, 2014Check & Connect is one intervention used in Helena Public Schools to help reduce absenteeism and increase student engagement among at-risk youth. Nick Radley, Bryant Elementary School principal, said, "Eighteen or more absences a year is a recipe for disaster down the road. Once kids get to that point, they're already at risk of not graduating, whether they're five, eight, 12 or 17, it doesn't matter." Brett Zanto, Capital High School principal, said, "As students progress through high school, that's where we have the mentoring programs and the Check & Connect where there's a staff identified for students who are risk due to either academic or attendance concerns."

New York

BOCES counselors share best practices at professional conference Oswego County Today • February 21, 2013 "OCB counselors support identified students’ social, emotional, and behavior needs through the following preventative activities: social skills instruction in the classroom; conflict resolution and problem solving in the classroom; consultation with staff on behavior and interventions; a Check and Connect engagement and intervention program; Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) development and monitoring, as well as mentoring."

North Dakota

United Way unveils $5.5M fundraising goal
Prairie Business • September 11, 2014 "...United Way President Sherri J. Thomsen said while the United Way is well-known for raising millions of dollars every year, the organization is also becoming known for its collaborative investments focused on closing the academic achievement gap. Check & Connect is one such program at Jefferson Elementary. At the school of approximately 300 students, 100 had missed up to two months of academic instruction because of challenges their family faced, Thomsen said. Last year, Check and Connect paired students with a mentor with the goal of reducing absenteeism. Thomsen reported that the collaboration reduced absenteeism by 64 percent, tardies by 59 percent and reports of behavior problems by 73 percent."


Check & Connect: Social worker clicks with kids, parents Tulsa World • March 2, 2011 "Skip school at Clinton Middle School, and Charity Clark is probably going to come knocking on your front door. But she doesn't wear a badge. Through the Check & Connect truancy diversion program, Clark builds trust and establishes ongoing relationships with at-risk students and their families."


Medford schools see increase in graduation rate (Oregon) • January 26, 2018"A stand-out increase in the graduation rate comes from students who experience disabilities. That rate is up 25% in the past 2 years. Special Education and Student Services Director Tania Tong credits a number of programs to the graduation rate of students experiencing disabilities, including: The Check and Connect Program where trained, caring adults connect weekly with students on class work, assignments, and attendance...."

Year-round volunteers shine at Central Oregon schools
The Bulletin • February 3, 2017Check & Connect is being used with Redmond Early Learning Center kindergartners by an experienced Check & Connect mentor who's affectionately called "Grandpa Ralph" by students and teachers. Community volunteers make great mentors!

Medford celebrates graduation jump
Mail Tribune • January 31, 2017Check & Connect is one of the many factors helping Medford School District increase their graduation rates, according to this article. One school principal is quoted, "It's a lot of different things coming together, but to me, it's all of us wrapping our arms around these students and helping them get there and walk across that stage."


Middle school mentor counters absenteeism
The Record Herald • September 14, 2016"Sometimes students slip through the cracks of the education system, falling behind over the years because of attendance or behavior. On Tuesday night, members of the Waynesboro school board listened to a presentation about Waynesboro Area School District's latest attempt to help those students. Check and Connect is a new attendance program that helps students in the middle school by connecting them with Jim Mankins, who serves as a mentor for students in grades seven through nine." 

County helps school district of Lancaster combat truancy Lancaster Online • December 2, 2011 "A program designed to help students with attendance problems stay in school is coming to School District of Lancaster. SDL is partnering with Lancaster County Children & Youth Services to implement the Truancy Prevention Program at district middle schools beginning in January."
See related community spotlight: Pennsylvania Counseling Services: York and Lancaster Counties

York County program against student truancy expands ABC, WHTM • August 25, 2011 "A York County [PA] program meant to keep kids in school is expanding this school year. The mentoring service called 'Check & Connect' helps students and their families stay focused on education through continued support and counseling."
See related community spotlight: Pennsylvania Counseling Services: York and Lancaster Counties


Teaching moody middle schoolers to cope with emotions helps reduce suspensions
The News Tribune • November 12, 2016This article highlights several initiatives in Tacoma, Washington at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, including Check & Connect, "If teachers are concerned about a student’s academic performance, social and emotional issues, or both, the student is assigned to check in with a staff member during the school day. It’s called Check and Connect. The goal is to encourage positive behavior and, if that’s not happening, to steer the student toward better choices."

School counselors expanding outside traditional roles
Gonzaga School Counseling • October 7, 2015"In observation of how our local school counselors are changing lives, we recently visited a Middle School where the school counselors shared with us the Check & Connect program that she has implemented at her school. It is a mentor program that she has personally seen work at all grade levels. She mentioned that peer-to-peer programs are wonderful for students still engaged at school, but Check & Connect really draws in those who are starting to, or have already, disengaged."

Restorative approach to truants shows promise when matched with family support (WA)
Prevention Action • December 17, 2014
This article summarizes a 2014 study by researchers from Washington State University who found that youth who had persistently truanted were significantly more likely to graduate from high school or obtain an equivalent qualification after being referred to an innovative intervention which incorporates Check & Connect.

A new face at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club
Ballard News Tribune • January 30, 2013“While at the Federal Way Club, Shelley led the development of the Be Great Graduate program [an adaptation of Check & Connect], which is now regarded as one of the most impactful programs of its kind in the nation,” said Patrick Murray, regional director for the Boys and Girls Club of King County.
See related research project: BE GREAT: Graduate: Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Adaptation of Check & Connect

Washington Models for Change Toolkit sees 100% success rate in implementation • August 28, 2012"Community truancy boards have emerged as one of the most successful models of the Washington Models for Change initiative. . . . Most boards employ the Check and Connect model . . . "

Boys & Girls Club Program supports struggling students: Goal is to keep them focused on graduation The Spokesman-Review • October 18, 2010 "Be Great: Graduate is modeled after Check & Connect -- a comprehensive strategy designed by the University of Minnesota. Both programs stress use of mentors; intense tracking of school attendance, behavior, and course failure; partnerships among club, home, and school; and communication."
See related research project: BE GREAT: Graduate: Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Adaptation of Check & Connect


Today's take: At-risk students get coaches Greenbay Press Gazette • April 26, 2014 "At the end of the day, effective educational programming boils down to the success of each individual student. To that end, the BE GREAT: Graduate program the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay works from the idea that pairing up students with an individual mentor can encourage them to do better in school — even stay in school — and leave with a diploma. The 4-year-old program serves 115 kids, and there's a waiting list. A recent $8,000 grant from AT&T means the program can serve another 25 students."
See related research project: BE GREAT: Graduate: Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Adaptation of Check & Connect


PDF Knowledge is power: Toward a Québec-Wide effort to increase student retention: Report of the Action Group on Student Retention and Success in Québec (PDF) BMO Financial Group • 2010 "Concerned by the scope of Québec’s student retention problem, members of Québec civil society formed an action group made up of representatives of organizations that work in dropout-related fields, relevant government departments, business people and experts whose work is connected to the issue." This group examined existing dropout prevention initiatives both within and outsite of Québec, including Check & Connect.
See related research project: Québec Adaptation and Validation of the Check & Connect Dropout Prevention Program

Staying the course: Our city has a wealth of culture, knowledge, history, dropouts. For Montreal to recognize its potential, it has to find a way for students to recognize theirs The Gazette • February 14, 2009 This article from The Montreal Gazette describes several dropout prevention programs currently being implemented in Montreal, among them an adaptation of Check & Connect.
See related research project: Québec Adaptation and Validation of the Check & Connect Dropout Prevention Program


La Haute-Normandie se tourne vers le Québec pour contrer le décrochage (Translation: Upper Normandy turns to Québec to counter the dropout)
Le Devoir: Libre de Penser • 27 Septembre 2014Google translation from French: "Every year in France, about 150,000 young people leave school without qualifications. In order to reduce the dropout rate, the Academy of Rouen is working closely with Québec researchers in the establishment of a French version of the Check & Connect prevention program."
See related research project: Québec Adaptation and Validation of the Check & Connect Dropout Prevention Program


Check and Connect: A Structured Adult Mentoring Intervention for Students
National Behaviour Support Services • February 2017The National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) works with schools on the planning, implementation and mentor training needed for this intervention. In NBSS partner schools teachers volunteer to become Check and Connect mentors.

New Zealand

Connectivity, not cash, can solve truancy
Indian Newslink • May 1, 2017"More than payments, having a warm, supporting parent or mentor can transform lives. Money does not solve relational issues. We do not just want high schoolers to turn up to class, we want them to engage with the tools to succeed in their lives, through listening to their teachers, gaining academic qualifications, and developing ako, a Mori term describing a reciprocal teaching and learning relationship between student and teacher.... The government is already doing some good work around this, with school programmes like My Friends Youth and Check and Connect.... If we want children to be engaged in class, we should look to encourage mentoring, participative classrooms, and integration between work skills and traditional education. Money will not inspire disenfranchised teenagers to engage with education, but connection and challenge will do so.

Check & Connect Makes Connections in Australia and New Zealand
Institute on Community Integration • September 19, 2016"The Institute's Check & Connect program has reached south of the equator. The comprehensive student engagement intervention is being implemented in Australia and New Zealand. Check & Connect director Jean Echternacht and ICI director David R. Johnson were warmly received in August when they spent nearly three weeks 'down under' promoting it. 'It was rewarding to see how a relationship-based, evidence-based model developed at the University of Minnesota is being implemented with fidelity so far from home,' says Echternacht.

Youth mentor making a difference to students’ school experience
New Zealand Ministry of Health • November 26, 2014Behind the smile of a 15-year-old Hastings Girls’ High School student lies a young woman dealing with distress, grief and domestic upheaval. She finds it hard to concentrate on her school work, but every Friday she meets with her Check and Connect mentor, and it’s one of her favourite times of the week.

Trialling Check & Connect in selected secondary schools
Positive Behaviour for Learning • March 28, 2014 This news brief (PDF download) outlines how Check & Connect is being implemented and researched in New Zealand through the Ministry of Education - specifically, the Positive Behaviour for Learning program in the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project.

Government supporting parents to lift educational • May 8, 2013The Government is also piloting two new programmes as part of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health initiative: Check and Connect and My FRIENDS Youth. "Check and Connect is a long-term mentoring programme for students at risk of disengaging, underachieving or dropping out early from school. "Up to a fifth of our teenagers fall out of the education system at Years 10 and 11. That’s unacceptable,’’ says Ms Parata. Check and Connect will be piloted in some secondary schools in South Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Tai Tokerau over the next 18 months.

Education programmes to take cut: Minister announces funding changes in • May 8, 2013 "Two new programmes, Check and Connect and My FRIENDS Youth - both part of the Prime Minister's youth mental health initiative - would benefit from $2.4 million in funding. Check and Connect would be piloted in secondary schools across the country, including Wellington and Hawke's Bay."

Tackling youth mental health in • April 4, 2012New Zealand is adopting Check & Connect as part of a broader package of programs to foster youth mental health. "Specially trained youth workers will work alongside nurses in selected low decile secondary schools to further strengthen support for young people in need. They will also trial a new programme called Check & Connect, which targets young people who have disengaged, or are at risk of disengaging, from school."

Quarter of NZ students quit early • October 9, 2009This article describes New Zealand's high school graduation rates, which are the second-worst in the developed world, and quotes Sandra Christenson, one of the creators of Check & Connect, who presented at an education conference in New Zealand in 2009.

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