City Year and the Center for Social Organization of Schools (CSOS) at Johns Hopkins University Partnership

Compass Academy is supported by City Year - AmeriCorps and the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University.  These two national non-profit education organizations hold a combined experience of 50 years in helping students succeed and currently partner with 314 public schools across the country.



Founded in 1988 on a commitment to harnessing the energy and idealism of young people, City Year - AmeriCorps deploys human capital solutions to deliver evidence-based academic and social-emotional interventions to elementary, middle, and high school students across 314 schools in 40 school districts. Its unique approach provides multiple, consecutive years of interventions and support services to at-risk students who display early warning signs of dropping out of school.  City Year - AmeriCorps began working in Denver in 2011. Since this time, it has engaged with the families of more than 4,700 students.


Since 1966, CSOS at John’s Hopkins University has been a substantive contributor to education policy reform, leading longitudinal research studies to explore the relationship between the organization of schools and student outcomes. Its work has included optimizing learning environments to promote student learning and commitment, facilitating successful workforce transition, and involving families and communities in schools to promote student achievement. The work of CSOS extends beyond its research to also provide technical assistance to schools seeking to implement their findings and best practices around school organization.


Together, these two organizations bring more than 50 years of experience in the education space. In 2008, three national organizations – Talent Development Secondary at Johns Hopkins University, City Year, and Communities In Schools – created the Diplomas Now partnership, an innovative, multi-year approach to whole-school improvement for our nation’s most challenged middle and high schools. Diplomas Now uses an early warning system to identify students who are off track in attendance, behavior, and course performance in English and math – highly predictive indicators that a student will drop out of high school. Teams of full-time AmeriCorps members and professional staff provide students with individualized academic and social-emotional support and case management to get them on track to high school graduation and college, career, and life success.

Prior research shows that preventing students from exhibiting one or more of these early warning indicators can boost the odds of graduation from approximately 25 percent to 75 percent, which can dramatically improve a young person’s life trajectory. Ensuring that high-need students end the sixth and ninth grades with no early warning indicators is one of the most effective strategies a school can implement to significantly increase the odds that a student in a high-need community will graduate from high school.

Recent impact results from a randomized control trial independently conducted by MDRC demonstrate that Diplomas Now increases the percentage of sixth- and ninth-graders with no early-warning signs in attendance, behavior, and course performance. This finding is important because prior research shows that sixth- and ninth-graders without Early Warning Indicators (EWI) graduate at rates two to three times higher than students with such issues. Now, with the release of a new report on one of the largest randomized control trials of U.S. secondary schools, we have strong evidence that:

  • The number of students who end the key sixth and ninth grade transition years with early warning indicators can be reduced.
  • It is possible to reduce chronic absenteeism in our nation’s highest-need middle schools.
  • Emerging evidence reveals that more students report having positive relationships with non-teaching adults through the Diplomas Now partnership, which deploys teams of full-time AmeriCorps members and case managers.
  • We also see emerging evidence of Diplomas Now ensuring students who enter the sixth and ninth grade on track stay on track.

Become a Partner

If you would like to partner with us, fill out the form below and one of our staff members will get back to you.

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