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Hillside Work-Scholarship Program Helps Gates-Chili Students

Roderick Green, executive director, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection
Roderick Green, executive director, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection

A local support program for students at risk of dropping out of school is expanding its reach into the suburbs.

This school year, 30 ninth graders in the Gates Chili School District are paired with mentors from the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.

The program's executive director, Roderick Green, says poverty is not just an urban problem.

"Districts are finding, particularly the first ring suburbs, that they are starting to have some of the same issues that some of our urban centers are having, like Rochester City School district, Buffalo, and Syracuse."

The Hillside Work-Scholarship program began working with students in the Greece Central School District in the 2013-14 school year.

Once students stabilize their grades they are eligible to be trained for jobs with one of Hillsides partners, such as Wegmans.

Green said over 93 percent of students who land those jobs go on to graduate from high school.

The cost of the program - an estimated $3,700 per student - will be split between the Gates Chili School District and Hillside WSC. 

Students must meet at minimum of two of six risk factors to be eligible for the program. They include low socioeconomic status, failing grades in core subjects, multiple school suspensions, low standardized test scores, over age for grade level, and high absenteeism.

"They are in many cases recommended by school-based personnel, but we also do active recruitment for students who have an interest and just really want some additional support." Green said.

There are often more eligible students than they are spots in the program. which is determined by available funding.

Hillside worked with 2,500 students from the city of Rochester last year, but Green said twice that many were likely eligible.