The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation Rolls Out National ‘Choice Bus’ Fleet to Fight the Dropout Rate

083109mattieToday The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation launched a nationwide fleet of Choice Buses, adding 10 school buses to help fight the nation’s dropout epidemic. Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett, Communities In Schools and other partner organizations lent support for the announcement at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The Choice Bus, a tool developed by The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation to help educators, administrators, parents and community leaders increase the graduation rate, allows students to see firsthand the importance of the choices they make — especially the choice to finish school. The bus, an interactive experience-based learning tool that is half-classroom and half-prison cell, demonstrates the powerful benefits of education along with the likely consequence that await those who choose to drop out — a life of crime.Since its inception, The Choice Bus has impacted over 53,000 children across the United States. Its overwhelming success created demand for additional buses to respond to hundreds of requests from across the country. The second bus, Choice Two, was dedicated this month to serve the southeastern region of the country.

Furthering its mission to reach students on a national level, The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation acquired 10 buses to be converted and start visiting schools across the country in 2010 and 2011.

The Choice Bus is a powerful tool that we can use to show students and their families the importance of completing their education and the tragic reality that lies ahead for many who choose to drop out,” said Bennett. “A tool such as The Choice Bus is a welcomed asset in our goal to achieve a 90 percent graduation rate in Indiana by 2012. It’s important that our youth here in Indiana and across the country have the opportunity to experience its powerful message firsthand.”

“America can no longer ignore the dropout problem facing our communities,” said Dr. Shelley Stewart, President and Founder of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. “Twenty five years ago we were the world leaders in high school graduation, but not any longer. We must all work together to create innovative and effective methods to help students and their families understand the relevance of education in the real world. The Choice Bus does that and much, much more. With today’s announcement along with the support of our partners, we’ll soon have 10 Choice Buses visiting schools and communities in all regions of the country.”

“Communities In Schools applauds The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation’s passionate commitment to helping reduce the nation’s dropout rate with tools like The Choice Bus,” said Bill Milliken, Founder and Vice-chairman of Communities In Schools. “The young people we are privileged to serve through Communities In Schools are benefiting from the development of such tools. We congratulate them on the expansion of The Choice Bus fleet.”

“America’s Promise Alliance is excited to be a partner with The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation and their expansion of The Choice Bus fleet,” said Alma Powell, Chair of America’s Promise Alliance. “The addition of 10 more Choice Buses will make this tool accessible to many more communities across the country. We applaud The Foundation for fulfilling the promise of America for so many children and youth.”

The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation is currently working with public and private sector partners to convert the buses into half-classroom, half-prison cell learning environments. To have The Choice Bus visit your school or community organization, visit www.mattiecstewart.org for more information.

About The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation

The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the dropout rate. The Foundation was established in honor of Dr. Shelley Stewart’s late mother, Mattie C. Stewart, in the summer of 2007 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. The mission of the Foundation is to create tools and resources to help educators, community leaders and parents effectively address the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate. The Foundation also partners with America’s Promise Alliance, the National Dropout Prevention Center and Communities In Schools. For more information, visit www.mattiecstewart.org.

Pictured: Dr. Shelley Stewart (r) mentors D-Jaun Faceson of the Coleman Academy Alternative Education Center, following a news conference today in Indianapolis, Indiana announcing the nationwide expansion of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation’s Choice Bus fleet.