Zip Code Project expanding to help more young, at-risk students

Posted at 10:21 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 07:18:44-04

Thursday, the Arizona Department of Education will add more zip codes to the "Zip Code Project," a statewide initiative that targets at risk teens and young adults ages 16-24 that have a great likelihood of dropping out of high school and not having work.

It may look like a regular school, but students here at the Genesis Academy say it's different -- and it works better for them.

"Teachers pay more attention to you," explains Daijanae Jones. "They focus on you. They help you when you need help."

Genesis is one of several alternative high schools partnering up with the Zip Code Project. The goal is to target teens and young adults in areas in the state that have a higher number of kids who don't graduate.

"These youth feel like they have no skills, no purpose," explained Christopher Dickinson, the executive director of the Zip Code Project.

The initiative launched just last year -- targeting four zip codes across the state:  86503 in Chinlie, on the Navajao Nation, 85321 in Ajo, 85040 in south Phoenix, and 85031 in Maryvale.

For students, it's not just a chance to get back on track, it's also a chance to shoot for the stars.

"I wasn't sure if I was good enough for it," Jones explains about her goals to get accepted into cosmetology school. "But now that I've been working on it, I think I'm good enough now."

The state says the goal is to partner up with nonprofits and other community-based organizations, provide mentors for these students, and also get parents involved.

Count on ABC15 to pass along the developments from Thursday's news conference.