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The Economic Impact of Communities In Schools: The Return on Investment from Increased High School Graduation Rates


Daniel Cardinali, President, Communities In Schools
Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

The paralyzing effects of the dropout epidemic—on individuals, families, society, and the economy as a whole—are well documented. One-quarter of the nation’s students do not graduate from high school on time. Jobless rates for individuals without a diploma are more than triple those of individuals who graduate from college. Combating this problem has become a national priority. A new analysis from the Alliance for Excellent Education (Alliance) finds that achieving a 90 percent high school graduation rate—the national goal—would generate a host of economic benefits to the nation, including the creation of nearly 40,000 new jobs and a $6.6 billion growth in the gross domestic product. Communities In Schools (CIS), a national nonprofit organization, has developed an evidence-based and rigorously tested model that has helped at-risk students stay in school and graduate from high school.

The Alliance and CIS held a webinar on June 27 on a comprehensive economic study of the positive impact of CIS on reducing dropout rates and increasing high school graduation rates. CIS President Dan Cardinali joinedAlliance President Bob Wise to discuss the findings from CIS’s return-on-investment study, conducted by one of the nation’s leading economic modeling firms. The study demonstrates that CIS produces meaningful and social impacts by increasing high school graduation rates and the lifetime benefits for students, businesses, and taxpayers.

The panelists discussed the benefits of locally implementing an evidence-based, dropout prevention program that has been effective across states, school settings, grade levels, and student ethnicities. Webinar panelists also addressed questions submitted by viewers across the nation.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance, visit

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.