Usher wants to improve high school dropout rates across the globe.
The singer launched “Usher’s New Look” program with his mother, Jonetta Patton, in 1999 to increase high school graduation rates and provide students with strategies for success. Since its launch, “Usher’s New Look” has worked with more than 25,000 students globally, according to the singer.
“I’ve seen kids dream bigger. They know that anything is possible and they’re amazed at all of the opportunities available to them,” he told The Huffington Post. “It’s not enough to dream big. You have to have the tools and skills to make it happen.” Indeed, mentoring is one effective practice in preventing students from dropping out of school, according to the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.
Usher, who serves as one of the program’s board members, said he spreads the very same principles that he instills in his children, which is to “find your spark, be entrepreneurial and, above all, give back to your community.”
Since 2000, the nation has seen a decline in its dropout rate for 18 to 24-year-old students (from 12 to 7%), according to a 2014 Census Bureau report. The report cited fewer Hispanic and black dropouts as contributing factors for the lower rates.
“Teens drop out of high school for many reasons, but I think it boils down to having a support system that helps you see past your current circumstances,” Usher said. “Whether it’s engaged parents, a professional mentor or a network of peers, your chances of graduating high school increase the more support you have.”
High school dropouts list lack of parental support and teen pregnancy as two contributing facts for their decision to drop out, according to a U.S. News report.
Looking ahead, the organization plans to increase their number of 25,000 certified students worldwide. “My goal is to keep doubling this number until The New Look Effect can be felt around the world. Until we are ‘One World, Powered by Service’.”
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