Robert Balfanz founded Diplomas Now in response to the large number of students dropping out of high school every day. A researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Balfanz started by investigating the reasons students drop out, and what results occur due to a lack of a high school diploma.
“My professional work has revolved around figuring out what it will take to enable all our students to graduate from high school prepared for adult success. It is driven by the belief that… far too many of our students, especially students of color who live in poverty, fail to graduate from high school. It’s an affront to what America can and needs to be.” – Robert Belfanz
Balfanz took his findings to the 12 percent of high schools responsible for half of the nation’s drop outs. Based on his data, the lowest performing schools could not fully promote their students’ education due to too many needs and a lack of resources. Diplomas Now remedied the situation by bringing three blue-chip national non-profit programs together: the Talent Development Secondary School reform model from Johns Hopkins University, City Year and Communities in Schools. This partnership takes advantage of outside resources to aid students in their academic as well as non-academic efforts, allowing teachers to focus on the entire classroom’s education and instruction.
Since it began in 2008, Diplomas Now has kept a focus on results and outcomes. It is currently operating in 41 schools across 12 cities, and is currently responsible for conducting the largest randomized field trial of secondary school reform to date.