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February 2012 Vol. 19 No. 4 Focus on Dropouts and Jobs: A Neighborhood Story

No diploma, no job

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis

Monica Reyes (not her real name) dropped out of Kensington CAPA at 17 and is unemployed. Now 20, she says, "Growing up in that neighborhood, I went through war."

By by Benjamin Herold
'I Want to Be Working': As part of our comprehensive coverage of dropouts and jobs, the Notebook and WHYY's NewsWorks have created a multimedia package of materials for our readers and listeners. Listen to Monica Reyes's story in Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY. View a slideshow, infographics, and additional reporting. Check out the hour-long discussion of Philadelphia's dropout crisis on WHYY's Radio Times. And join us this Wednesday at Johnny Brenda's to share your perspective.

Like almost 14 million other Americans, Monica Reyes is looking for work.

"Macy's, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Friday's, Outback," said Reyes, ticking off her list of recent unsuccessful job applications.

A sluggish economy has made finding work difficult for people from all walks of life. Nationally, the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent. Four people compete for every job.

Few of them will have a tougher time finding work than Reyes.

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Devastated by job loss, Kensington now hammered by cutbacks

By by Paul Jablow

From her fifth-floor office window at the headquarters of Congreso, Cynthia Figueroa can look down at Kensington's past and see what she hopes is its future.

A block to the east, at American and Cambria Streets, an abandoned textile factory has been razed, and her Kensington-based human service organization is building an education center and charter school campus in its place.

The center will also house a branch of Harcum College, where local residents will study leadership and management, juvenile justice, human resources, and child care. It's a far cry from the factory jobs once available to anyone with a high school diploma – or perhaps with just a strong back.

Figueroa, president and CEO of Congreso, is confident that with adequate resources, Kensington's youth can be trained for the 21st century job market.

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District on-time graduation rate surpasses 60 percent

By by Paul Socolar

The School District's on-time graduation rate climbed 3 percentage points last year to 61 percent, the first time in memory that more than six of ten Philadelphia students have graduated on time. That figure is the percentage of students who entered 9th grade in fall 2007 and finished high school by 2011.

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