Students who are frequently truant or suspended have a greater risk of dropping out of school, being unemployed or becoming incarcerated. In DC, 8,500 students are marked as truant, 5,200 are suspended, and 3,000 are arrested. Access Youth identifies at-risk students and provides them with mediation, coaching, and life-skills training to reduce truancy, suspension, and arrest. When Executive Director Jodi Ovca applied for the Fair Chance partnership, Access Youth had only two staff members and was struggling financially. Working with Fair Chance, Jodi was able to establish sound financial management practices and improve the grant submission process. This partnership resulted in increased funding opportunities.
Today, Access Youth’s budget has grown by 400%, and they have worked with over 400 students through their Truancy Prevention Program. As a result of Access Youth, these students are three times more likely to avoid chronic truancy compared to their peers; 75% of students in the Suspension Prevention Program avoid suspension; and 75% of first-time offenders avoid re-arrest. Access Youth’s staff also grew from 2 staff to 10 staff since the partnership. Fair Chance’s support enabled Access Youth to continue as a critical intervention for students.