Policy Work: The Promise Project

Promoting Independence and Success through Education

Among young people who drop out in the U.S. each year, 26% report teen parenthood as a leading reason why they left school.1 When applied to Massachusetts droppout data, teen parenthood accounts for approximately 2,232 of our students who leave school each year.2 Through the Promise Project, the Alliance aims to identify and promote policies that increase educational opportunity and success for pregnant and parenting teens in Massachusetts.

Legislation: Click here to find out more about our dropout prevention and recovery bill aimed to improve supports for expectant and parenting students in Massachusetts.

The Promise Project’s long term goal is to increase the number of pregnant and parenting teens who complete high school or GED programs and pursue higher education.

Read our 2010 report: Expecting Success: How Policymakers and Educators Can Help Teen Parents Stay in School

Read our 2012 case study on Chelsea High School’s expectant and parenting student liaison entitled Not the Exception: Making Teen Parent Success the Rule.

Implementation tools

Why is the Promise Project important?

Primary project components

For more information please contact the Public Policy Director, at 617-482-9122 x101 or by email.

The Promise Project Report

Expecting Success: How Policymakers and Educators Can Help Teen Parents Stay in School presents findings and policy recommendations based on data collected from teen parents, teen parent service providers and educators. The research presented in this report reveals that many teens who were headed toward dropping out become re-committed to school once they become parents. The research also demonstrates that too often these youth do not reach their graduation goals, because they need family, schools, and teen parent programs that both support them and set high expectations for their success. Click here for methodology and sample characteristics.

Implementation Tools

The Alliance created 2 tools to help educators support expectant and parenting students to stay in school: the Model District Policy for Expectant and Parenting Students and the Roadmap to Graduation Guide. The Roadmap to Graduation Guide consists of 8 forms. The forms guide a school-based expectant and parenting student liaison or graduation coach in working with expectant and parenting students to: 1. map a plan to graduation or passing the GED and 2.) identify academic and non-academic supports needed to stay on track.

The focus of these tools is secondary education completion. They are primarily resources for high school-based staff. However, we believe alternative education options and supports for post-secondary education and training are invaluable. We incorporate links to alternative education and postsecondary education and training in both of these tools. The Roadmap to Graduation Guide includes a GED Progress Report Form.

Model District Policy for Expectant and Parenting Students: Click here.

Roadmap to Graduation Guide Components:

Why is the Promise Project important?

  • Although some teen parents are successful at reaching their educational goals, many face significant barriers to graduating: teen parenthood is a leading reason 26% of young people leave school in the U.S.3
  • Teen parenthood is the leading cause of high school dropout among girls4 It is a primary reason that 19% of males leave school.5
  • If teens delay pregnancy until they are 20 or older, they are nearly twice as likely to have graduated from high school and at least three times as likely to complete college.6
  • In MA there were 4,477 teen births to 15-19 year olds in 2007.7
  • Poor educational outcomes are not inevitable for teen parents! With the necessary supports and high expectations for success, pregnant and parenting teens reach their educational aspirations.
  • The Promise Project aims to increase high school graduation and its associated outcomes, such as employment rates, positive health outcomes, median annual earnings, and enrollment in higher education.8

Primary project components

The Alliance and teen parents will:

  1. Research policies that impact educational attainment;
  2. Initiate a state and local level survey of teen parents to identify policies that influence pregnant and parenting teens in reaching their educational goals;
  3. Partner with schools or school districts to implement key recommendations; and
  4. Lobby for public policies that support educational attainment among pregnant and parenting teens.

  • 1. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Documents/TheSilentEpidemic…
  • 2. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, High School Dropouts 2008-09 Massachusetts Public Schools, 2009, found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/reports/dropout/0708/summary.pdf
  • 3. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Documents/TheSilentEpidemic…
  • 4. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Why It Matters: Teen Pregnancy and Education
  • 5. The National Women’s Law Center (2007). When Girls Don’t Graduate We All Fail. Washington, D.C.
  • 6. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy (2006). By the Numbers: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing. Washington, D.C.
  • 7. O’Keefe, G., Cohen, B., and Nyberg, S. (2011, July). Massachusetts Births 2009. Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  • 8. The National Women’s Law Center (2007). When Girls Don’t Graduate We All Fail. Washington, D.C.