Fifty years ago a high school diploma allowed a young person to have a good job, earn a steady income, and provide for his or her family.
That is no longer true.
High school graduation must be followed by another quality educational experience to ensure each child’s ability to enter into the workforce with a marketable skill.
The economic costs of under-educating our children are staggering and have become a massive burden on our community.
Education is the silver bullet. An educated citizenry creates a community with better jobs, safer neighborhoods, and happier families. Producing well-educated children decreases the need for less effective and more costly government interventions. Conversely, having a large segment of our children attempt to go into the workforce with minimal skills creates social and economic instability along with a massive financial burden on our community.
Whatever It Takes seeks to ensure that every child in Athens-Clarke County will graduate from a post-secondary education be it vocational training, military service, technical school, junior college, or a 4-year university.
We, along with our partners, will accomplish this through emphasizing early intervention - recognizing that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, identifying and training neighborhood leaders to create a system of on the ground experts to guide implementation of solutions, and by creating a results-accountable architecture through which stakeholders design, implement, and evaluate solutions for childhood success.
While there are many social service organizations that perform exceptional work by helping a number of children to beat the odds, previous efforts have failed to change the overall trajectory of at-risk children. This occurs because services have been spread too thin over a large geographic area.
By concentrating our efforts in a single neighborhood and subsequently expanding outward Whatever It Takes will achieve a domino effect bringing this ‘cradle to career’ continuum to the entirety of Athens-Clarke County. We have started with a manageable area that will allow us to reach the tipping point of 65% neighborhood involvement that is necessary to create a genuine culture of success. This concentration of resources creates a compounding effect, changing the odds for all children rather than helping just a few to beat the odds.
Rather than making decisions based on emotion, intuition, or politics we will use a state of the art longitudinal data system developed specifically to meet the needs of Athens-Clarke County to monitor the progress of our programs while respecting the privacy of the families in the neighborhood – allocating funds and resources to those that are proven to be working and recalibrating our efforts in the areas that are not. Simply put, Whatever It Takes will not support any program or policy that cannot prove its capacity to help children succeed.