United Way of Dallas to Put $1 Million Toward Keeping Kids in the Dallas ISD

I was glancing at the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees' meeting agenda for Thursday when I espied this intriguing item: Acceptance of Donation from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in the Amount of $1,005,000 to Support Destination: Graduation. Seems awfully generous, which is why I called United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to ask about the money, which will go toward dropout-prevention programs at J.F. Kimball, Thomas Jefferson and W.W. Samuell high schools; and Edward H. Cary and Francisco "Pancho" Medrano middle schools.

Alas, United Way doesn't want to say much about the donation, which will be formally announced at an April 1 media conference. But this much we do know: Since '05, United Way, partnering with Dallas Achieves!, has been funding Destination: Graduation, described on its Web site as an "educational initiative designed to improve high school graduation rates and the pursuit of advanced education." The program began in Kimball, Samuell and T.J.; then, last September, it spread over to Williams High School in the Plano ISD. This is the first year money will be spent on junior highs -- both of which feed into Thomas Jefferson.

But keep in mind: The money does not go directly to the DISD. Instead, it will wind up being distributed to the various agencies involved in the three-pronged approach -- college prep and SAT training, parental involvement programs, and mentoring and counseling -- aimed at lessening the district's dropout rate, not long ago among the highest in the nation but recently on the decline. Among those agencies involved: Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and The Princeton Review.

But we've said too much already. We hear there's a press conference next week -- a few days after the board's expected to okee-doke the dough.