No Dropout Zone
No Dropout Zone is a campaign that focuses on actively engaging the church in education to assure each Hispanic is successfully finishing high school. It is a prevention program with three different, but interrelated, focuses: one for parents, one for students, and one for church leaders.
7 Strategies Your Church Can Do to Encourage Education
This section presents some practical and easy-to-apply ideas on how to promote the value of a college education by making it part of our expectations for our youth.
Here are a few ideas for you and your church to employ so that, together, we can instill in our youth the value of a college education.
Emphasize college attendance as an expectation.
Contact local colleges and universities, and ask them to host young people—perhaps starting in 5th grade—on their campus for tours and information.
Challenge pastors to be the "academic advocates" in their communities, urging parents to emphasize the importance of reading and studying at an early age.
Offer after-school programs at your church that feature SAT / ACT prep and remedial study in English and math. (Grants are often available for these courses.)
Feature posters of colleges and universities in Sunday school and church childcare rooms.
Celebrate a "college day" at least once a year at your church, featuring banners, T-shirts and even college counselors to reflect a "college fair" atmosphere.
If you offer educational programs, contact a local college or university to see if they will offer "dual credit" partnership so that your students may receive credit toward their associate's, bachelor's or master's degree.
Finish the Race Academic Covenant
Imagine the impact the faith community can have in reducing dropout rates if our congregations would pledge to support our students and help them finish high school. Finish the Race Academic Covenant focuses on church leaders and members sacredly committing to encourage students on their educational path.
Sign the Finish the Race Academic Church Covenant. By signing this covenant, churches promise to create an environment that advocates finishing high school and going to college.
- Set aside a special Sunday worship service to dedicate students and their academic efforts to the Lord. This gives pastors, parents and church members an opportunity to pray for their students. Students will hear a special sermon and testimonies of people who finished strong.
- Enlist a Volunteer Academic Resource Leader to focus on identifying needs and matching them with resources. He or she visits the area's local schools to understand the challenges faced by Hispanic students, helps find scholarship information, and works with the church leaders to help students and parents improve academic efforts. They also work closely with the students to help them find a mentor within the church and community.
- Encourage 100 percent attendance at school. One of the most significant indicators of academic success is attendance. School administrators point out that all students have great potential for learning if they attend classes Monday through Friday each week. When students have unnecessary absences they have a difficult time "catching up" with the rest of the class. Parents and church leaders can make a great impact on the lives of students as they recognize those with the highest attendance records during each grading period. Students will begin to understand that missing school is not an option. This philosophy positions them for learning and academic success.
- Take students and parents to visit a university. Many students and parents have little experience attending or visiting university campuses. Pastors and youth leaders can help break these barriers and ignite dreams.
- Invite a youth speaker to encourage your group. Youth speakers connect with your students and encourage them to follow Christ, as well as improve their grades. They often use humor and inspiration to relate powerfully to students.
- Be supportive. Raise money by taking up a love offering for college students. Host a monthly dinner for all college students—especially those that are from out-of-state. This will help them know that they have people they can rely on.
- Encourage students to apply for scholarships. With college tuition rapidly increasing, estimating the total cost of your child's education can be overwhelming. However, money can be found through grants, financial aid and scholarships, and in many cases they do not have to be paid back. A little homework in the beginning can reap phenomenal results. If you are of Hispanic or Latino heritage, you may find many scholarships allocated especially for you.
Download the Finish the Race Academic Church Covenant >
**Remember that low-income families can receive funding from the government, nonprofit organizations and sometimes the university. Do not delay in applying.**
This is a resource especially developed to help pastors promote education and reduce dropout rates. "Finish the Race" is a Biblical sermon that inspires and motivates Hispanic students to finish the "academic" race set before them.
Bible Verses: Hebrews 12:1-3
Sermon Goal: Share key points with students so they can decide to Finish the Race.
- Paul reminds us of leaders who testify with their lives that it is possible to:
- Finish the race.
- Face huge obstacles while running the race.
- Trust in God to help us overcome huge obstacles while running the race because HE is faithful.
- Paul encourages us to set aside any obstacle and sin which impedes our ability to Finish the Race.
- Paul challenges us to focus on Jesus while we run the race set before us.
- Paul reminds us that Jesus ran the race and that His sacrifice stands as an encouragement to anyone feeling overwhelmed or discouraged while running the race.
Hispanic students represent an exciting future in the United States of America. They represent future doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, nurses, architects, engineers, missionaries, pastors, professors, etc... We live in an exciting day full of opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges we face today is the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a growing Hispanic community. The recent census reports growth of the Hispanic population in most communities in the United States of America.
One of the greatest challenges we face involves the Hispanic student population in and around our churches. Hispanic students are dropping out of high school at a rate of 40-50 percent each year. In this country, a high school diploma is the first step toward future opportunities. It is critical that we help Hispanic students secure their future for impact and influence. As we read God's word today, consider the "race" that He has set before us as related to sharing the gospel with Hispanic students and their families. Consider the "race" that He has set before us with regards to helping Hispanic students finish the "academic" race set before them.
In Hebrews 12:1-3, Paul reminds us that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. We can find examples of the witnesses he refers to in Chapter 11. David, Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Joseph, and many more are listed there. All of these witnesses remain as proof that it is possible to Finish the Race set before us. They ran the race of their lives as they served God. They ran the race that He set before them. They exist as a constant eternal reminder that it is possible to Finish the Race set before us by our God. Are you running the race set before you? You can Finish the Race just like these heroes of the faith!
A second point about the cloud of witnesses is the fact that they faced huge obstacles. Consider any of the witnesses identified by Paul. Notice that everyone one of them faced obstacles that could only be overcome with the power of an almighty God, yet they were courageous and faced the challenges. They remind us that any great assignment from God generally comes with great challenges and overwhelming obstacles. Are you running the race? Have you found huge obstacles in trying to Finish the Race? You are not alone. Chapter 11 lists many heroes of the faith who faced overwhelming challenges. When facing huge challenges, don't get discouraged. Give thanks to God that you have the privilege of running the race He set before you.
A third point about the witnesses is that they remind us that God is trustworthy and is able to overcome any obstacle great or small that gets in the way of the race He sets before us. He is reliable. He is all powerful. He is all knowing. He is not surprised by any challenge we face. In fact, He is in my tomorrows. He is waiting for me. He knows what is coming next. He has prepared a way for me to continue running the race that I might Finish the Race He set before me. I love my heavenly father God. I love the way that He prepares me for and helps me with life's challenges. I love the fact that I can trust Him to help me with every challenge I face! Are you running the race? Have you committed to Finish the Race? Have you found any major challenges to finishing the race? Praise the Lord. You can count on Him to help you with your challenge and obstacle. Get ready for a God-sized miracle as you face your challenges. Count on Him. Have faith in Him alone for help in your time of challenge. He was the answer for these heroes of the faith. He is our answer today. He will be our solution for our tomorrows. Praise God for His constant care and help in our times of need.
Paul challenges us to set aside any weight or any obstacle that could possibly get in the way of our "running" the race. Please note that he encourages us to "run" the race. He uses the sports analogy of a runner to encourage us not to crawl or walk our race. But, to "run" the race set before us. It is obvious that one race set before Hispanic believers, includes the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with a growing number of Hispanics in our neighborhoods. They need to know Jesus as savior. We need to share the good news of Jesus with them. Let us join together and "run" to unchurched Hispanics in order to share the gospel of salvation with them.
Another significant "race" set before us includes the growing number of Hispanic students dropping out of high school. What can we do to help eliminate "weights" that burden Hispanic students and keep them from finishing high school? I believe that God gives us wisdom to understand the challenge before us. Dr. Albert Reyes suggests that Hispanic churches create a "no-dropout" zone around their churches with the idea that they will do all they can to remove obstacles so that more Hispanic students can successfully finish the race and receive high school diplomas. Can you imagine the impact that Hispanic churches can have on their communities when they declare a "no dropout" zone? What a tremendous witness! I can't wait to hear about Hispanic churches taking action to thwart the dropout rate in their communities! Additional help can be found in an article entitled, "15 Actions your church can take to help students Finish the Race." (See the website for a free copy)
Paul also encourages us to confess any sin which easily entangles us and keeps us from being able to Finish the Race set before us. What sin entangles you today? What "easily" tempts you to get off the course God set for you? What keeps you from "running?" Praise God, He is powerful enough to help us identify, confess and receive forgiveness for any sin that keeps us from running the race.
Paul recommends that we focus our eyes on Jesus Christ. He reminds us that Jesus ran the race. His life and death help us to commit to Finish the Race. Here is a simple truth. You need Jesus for any challenge you face. You need to keep your eyes on Jesus as the perfect example of obedience and love. Jesus is proof of God's love for each one of us. Trusting in Him is the first step for those seriously considering a commitment to Finish the Race.
Paul knew that real people facing real life challenges were capable of disappointment and discouragement while running the race. In verse two and three, he challenges us to consider the life and sacrifice of Jesus. He reminds us of His obedience and willingness to pay the highest price for our salvation so that we might be encouraged to Finish the Race. When you feel discouraged, remember Jesus. When you want to give up, remember that Jesus didn't give up. When you are disappointed, keep in mind that Jesus continued on His assignment and didn't allow any obstacles to get in the way of His personal race. Jesus Christ finished the race. He makes it possible for you to Finish the Race today.
Will you Finish the Race? Will you decide to take every action possible to finish the race God has placed before you? This is your invitation. Will you ask God to show you any sin or obstacle that keeps you from running the race? This is the day for you to run forward. Will you step forward and be the first one in your family to complete your education? Will you be an example for the younger ones in this congregation? Come join me at the altar and let's ask God to help us run the race He has set for us.
Nine Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in School
No influence is greater than that of families. Parents have the power to encourage their children to finish high school and pursue their dreams.
You are your child's first teacher.
- School attendance is extremely important. Please send your children to school every day. Only times of emergency and sickness are excusable absences.
- Make sure your children are always at school on time; unless a legitimate emergency arises.
- Get involved in your children's education. Talk with them and see if they are having difficulty with specific subjects. Talk with teachers, counselors and your church family for resources to help your child succeed in school.
- Math and reading are key subjects for your child's success. If your child is having difficulty with these subjects, access resources such as: after-school tutoring programs, resource teachers and ESL (English as a Second Language) programs.
- If you cannot afford certain school expenses, talk with your local school counselor and church family to explore alternatives and locate programs that help people in need.
- If your child or children were born outside of the United States and need to develop a sense of belonging, encourage them to join a club or a team.
- Find someone at your church who has been through the education process. Ask them for suggestions and advice that might help your children.
- Take advantage of the many resources offered by nonprofit organizations and the government.
- You are the key to your children's future. You have the power to encourage them to finish high school and pursue their dreams.
GED is the process of earning the equivalent of your high school diploma. Earning a GED is a chance to feel a great sense of accomplishment, and it is also the path to college for those who did not have the chance to go through high school or complete it. Here you will find information on how to obtain a GED (General Education Development).