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More Than Chalk

Last Friday was a great example of what it means to Live United. Students, public officials, parents, employees and teachers banded together to write messages of encouragement in chalk outside of 12 Anchorage schools.

Representative Lance Pruitt and community members chalked Scenic Park Elementary.

The chalk was cheerful and heartfelt, but what the event really represented is the community’s willingness to tackle a complex problem – the achievement gap and high school graduation rate.

Students fail to graduate for a myriad of reasons – some having nothing to do with what happens at school.

Helping a student earn a diploma requires hundreds of moving parts, the right supports and circumstances, and scores of players that are independent of each other. This is the very definition of a complex problem – an interdependent ecosystem that lacks a “mission control” that runs all the different parts.

Middle school students, Polly-Faye and Jubilee, with Anchorage School District Superintendent, Dr. Deena Bishop, and United Way of Anchorage President & CEO, Michele Brown. © Rachel Lee, United Way of Anchorage

United Way of Anchorage stepped forward to serve as “mission control” for a broad community partnership called 90% Graduation by 2020. Together with donors, advocates, volunteers and partners, we aligned resources and energy to change the odds for students. Together, we took aim at a complex problem.

Thanks to everyone who came out to Chalk the Walk. Special thanks to Catholic Social ServicesJacobsExxonMobilBP, and Anchorage School District for providing volunteers.  The messages that greeted students on their first day shows that Anchorage fights for them.

To see all the amazing artwork that welcomed students back on their first day of school, visit the Chalk the Walk photo gallery.

United Way Emerging Leader and BP employee, Laura Hunter, helped chalk Airport Heights Elementary. © Rachel Lee, United Way of Anchorage

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