Future Foundation 2.0: An innovative collective impact program to transform graduation rates at low-performing schools in metro Atlanta

What if a locally-driven, cross-sector initiative could infuse schools with resources, and transform young lives and graduation rates?

Photo of Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Siblings Shareef and Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim grew up in East Point, Georgia, surrounded by poverty, crime, and drugs in a predominantly African American community with low-performing schools. Their parents, envisioning a better life, moved the family to a northern Atlanta suburb just before they started high school. The neighborhoods were safer and the schools were high performing.

Both strong athletes, they were eventually awarded athletic scholarships to the University of California at Berkeley. There they struggled academically and vowed they would return to East Point and help prepare students for post-secondary institutions. Shareef founded Future Foundation in 2001 to recreate the one thing that helped them succeed against the odds - a supportive family. Qaadirah began directing Future Foundation's programs in 2003 and became the CEO in 2005. With a proven effective model that standardizes a second family approach, she is now on a mission to expand the organization’s work to create systems-level change, and replicate on a state and national scale. As first-generation college graduates, their inspirational story is about hope generated from the shared experience of adversity, and the living example of those who’ve overcome the odds using those experiences to create community solutions. Investing in that hope, and returning its benefits to the community, creates the confidence in others to continue building a narrative of community power.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)

Website

http://www.future-foundation.com

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Georgia

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

East Point, in metro Atlanta

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Georgia

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

East Point, GA, College Park, GA, in metro Atlanta

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Just ten minutes south of Atlanta, children in East Point and College Park experience high rates of poverty, segregation among African Americans, income inequality, poor school performance, and female led households - the same factors that establish Atlanta as one of the hardest places for children in the U.S. to climb out of poverty (Chetty, et al., 2014).

While Future Foundation has proven our effectiveness among individual students, graduating 100% of our teens since 2007, the need for repositioning our strategy and developing a coordinated community intervention is greater than ever. To drive change, Future Foundation launched FF 2.0 during 2014-15 within the county's lowest performing feeder pattern to address key areas that influence the trajectory of a child's life (e.g., education, health, and income), increase school graduation rates, and create systemic change.

"Future Foundation helped me take pride in who I was, who I am… Being a part of Future Foundation leaves an impression on you that you really can do anything you set your mind to."

~Lydia Mathis, FF Alumni, First-Year College Student, Gates Millennium Scholar


Future Foundation 2.0 is a community-led collective impact solution for children’s wellbeing in East Point and College Park, Georgia that strengthens youth, families, schools, and the local community, and builds a sustainable social safety net through collaboration. It repositions Future Foundation’s core programs, which provide children in the 6th through 12th grade with access to healthy relationship development, academic enrichment, family supports, health services, and life skills education, so that youth may escape poverty and become productive adults.


While we have proven our model works with individual participants, local schools remain low-performing and the need for coordinated community interventions only increases. The main school cluster in our target area, the Banneker feeder pattern, is the lowest performing among Fulton County Schools (FCS) with a 62% graduation rate, up from 51% last year.


Piloted in 2014-15, Future Foundation 2.0 engages 8th through 12th grade students most at-risk of dropping out, removes barriers to their successful graduation and matriculation to post-secondary education, and moves the needle on the graduation rate for the entire school. The project’s key components include multi-sector collaboration, placed-based intervention, and rigorous evaluation to develop an evidenced based collaborative service model. More specifically, innovative dimensions of the FF 2.0 collective impact program include:

  • Use of school data to identify 8th through 12th grade students most at-risk of dropping out;
  • Implementation of Future Foundation’s intervention at the school and our community centers serving targeted youth;
  • Coordination of intensive case management and cross-sector services to address students’ individual needs and barriers to graduation;
  • Support services for students’ caregivers to meet family income, health, and education needs;
  • Evaluation of process and student outcomes for continuous improvement and development of a replicable, scalable, evidence-based collaborative service model.


With Banneker representing just one of 27 low-performing feeder patterns in Georgia, the need for Future Foundation 2.0 is great.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Education

Year Founded

2001

Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

F 2.0 utilizes design-thinking to serve individual students and lead cross-sector partnerships that enable children to cultivate wellbeing in their lives, while supporting school community transformation. Guided by a single driving measure of change, high school graduation rates, FF 2.0 is designed to achieve the maximum amount of positive change for the hardest-to-reach population. Students in 8th-12th grade are identified through school data and invited to enter FF’s After School program, receive case management from partner Communities in Schools Atlanta, develop a Comprehensive Service Plan with FF, their teachers and guardians, and are connected to coordinated, cross-sector resources through our Enrichment Collaborative.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Evidence of our impact includes our core program outcomes and the FF 2.0 design and pilot. Our 2014-15 programmatic goal was to provide youth and family participants with high-quality, evidence-based services to measurably impact their lives. Outcomes include 78% of high school participants increased one or more letter grades in English; 61% increased one or more letter grades in Math; 95% showed an improvement in behavior; and 88% reported decreased levels of risky behaviors. In 2015, we defined and tested FF 2.0, secured Fulton County Schools as a formal partner and launched the pilot in the fall with a cohort of 40 youth. We developed a 4-year growth strategy based on the total number of students at-risk of dropping out, times the number of students needed to move the needle on the high school graduation rate. We will serve 180 youth in 2016, 220 in 2017, 300 in 2018, and 400 in 2019.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1k - $10k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Future Foundation’s plan to ensure financial sustainability is to (1) Build capacity in the community through training and volunteer support; (2) Develop and diversify funding resources; (3) Leverage resources to support program activities; and (4) Implement an annual major gifts campaign targeting corporate and individual support, which culminates in the annual Keep It 100% Luncheon, the first of which occurred in April 2016 and raised $300,000.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

FF 2.0 is a unique, collective impact program developed to shift a school community from a culture of low expectations to a culture of action and transformation. While there has been a recent influx of community organizations at Banneker, they continue to enter without local knowledge and operate in silos. FF 2.0 leverages more than a decade of local experience and coordinates strong community partners to ensure every child in East Point and College Park develops a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose, and attends a supportive school environment.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

We are excited that the youth development and education fields are moving beyond test scores and academics alone, moving out of silos where service provision is redundant, and opportunities are missed to leverage assets of potential community partners. The most promising trends and methodological shifts to advance children’s well-being are holistic, place-based, cross-sector, collaborative initiatives grounded in evidence and foster a culture of mutual trust and respect among all participants. These trends bolster our confidence in the FF 2.0 model to create long-term, positive social change.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

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Team

Thank you for providing such a wonderful program. You all provide the tools to empower, and tangible examples of overcoming adversity. Thank you for your work!

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