Breaking the Cycle of Latino High School Drop Outs: KidWorks Making Strides in Challenged Neighborhoods


Santa Ana, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/09/2010 -- KidWorks is hosting the graduation event “Day of the Stars” on June 19th from 10am-12pm at 1910 W. Chestnut Avenue in Santa Ana. City of Santa Ana Councilmember, David Benavides, will be giving a commencement address to the KidWorks high school graduates. KidWorks will also have a ceremony for the 48 preschool students who are promoting to Kindergarten.

KidWorks has been bringing hope to families living in challenged neighborhoods of central Santa Ana since 1994. While in some ways this community has changed in the last 15 years with some housing redevelopment and improved police relations, there continues to be high levels of gang activity and low educational attainment. According to the United States Census, in the KidWorks neighborhoods only 35% of adults have graduated from high school. This community is one of the poorest in Orange County where over 95% of the children qualify for the free lunch program at school and 45% of the families at KidWorks live below the Federal Poverty Line. Among KidWorks families, the average household income is $30,000 and the average household size is 5.

In the midst of this hardship, KidWorks boasts that all nine of its high school seniors are graduating on-time, within four years. This is an incredible achievement compared to the local Valley High School’s drop out rate of 19%, according to the State Department of Education in 2007. Within this graduating class, 8 are enrolling in college this fall and one will be serving in the United States’ Army.

KidWorks serves 350 students from preschool to 12th grade. The after school program for teenagers began in 2005 with fifteen high school students. This year, KidWorks served one hundred 6th-12th grade students by providing them the opportunity to set and pursue goals that may have seemed out of their reach. The program builds on the strengths of the youth through out of school time activities including tutoring, leadership development, computer literacy, library resources, mentoring, character building, health education, creative arts, college readiness, and parent engagement.

Out of a strong commitment to support these students through their time in college, KidWorks is launching a college program. They will provide mentoring and supportive services to ensure that high school graduates remain in college until they obtain their desired degrees. KidWorks will host monthly gatherings to bring graduates together to share their experiences and support one another. KidWorks will also assist students in building a “road map” that will guide them to their desired degree. Although there are eight eligible students to participate in the college program this first year, KidWorks currently has twelve 11th grade students, thirteen 10th grade students, and fifteen 9th grade students who will help grow this program each year as more graduating students enroll in college.

KidWorks is currently recruiting mentors who want to help a recent high school graduate navigate through their first year of college. Please contact KidWorks Volunteer Director, Donia Quon, at or 714-834-9400 ext. 111 to learn more about this opportunity.