Muskegon Covenant Academy tackles drop-out rate with community support February 1, 2015

In Muskegon, MI, the drop-out rate has reached 21 percent and nearly nine in 10 students take more than four years to graduate. Community leaders hope to reduce those numbers with the Muskegon Covenant Academy (MCA), a school for dropouts and at-risk students that opened this past fall.

MCA is modeled on the Covenant House Michigan system, whose schools in Detroit and Grand Rapids enroll students ages 16-22 in an individualized curriculum without defined grade levels. The flexible school day allows students to attend class, study online, work, care for children, and receive services.

A group of community leaders—seven school superintendents, the Muskegon Community Foundation, the Muskegon Rotary Club, and business members—came together and asked Sam Joseph, the Covenant House Michigan’s founding director, to establish a similar school in Muskegon to address the area’s drop-out problem.

MCA will be housed in a building bought from the Muskegon Public School District. Last month, IFF provided a $500,000 loan for renovations to MCA’s home, including a new roof and life-safety improvements.

During its first year of operation, MCA expects to serve 150 students. Ultimately, MCA will create 400 seats for students who are homeless, have dropped out, or at risk while maintaining a 14:1 staff-to-student ratio, as well as create 15 full-time jobs in the first two years.

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