Reconnecting McDowell, a vital public-private partnership launched six years ago to address the decades-long academic and socio-economic challenges facing children and families in McDowell County, is still making a positive difference for the region.

It was announced Tuesday that AT&T, one of the more than 125 public-private partners of Reconnecting McDowell, is contributing $200,000 to support Broader Horizons — a vital  student mentoring project — for the next two years. The latest contribution builds on a previous $300,000 contribution that enabled 57 at-risk high school students to participate in Broader Horizons. All of those former students have since graduated and enrolled in college or entered the military.

Those public-private partners who are helping the youngsters of McDowell County include Fortune 500 corporations and labor unions; national, state and local nonprofits and agencies; parents and pastors; school personnel and students; and local residents.

The Broader Horizons program provides mentors to high school students at risk of dropping out or who are dealing with serious personal difficulties. The program also takes the students to Charleston and Washington, D.C., during the school year to introduce them to a world of higher education and career possibilities. 

Excellent. Keeping at-risk students in school, and ensuring that they achieve an all-important high school diploma, is certainly a worthwhile goal. And we applaud Reconnecting McDowell and AT&T for helping to make this possible.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said one of the new focuses for 2018 will be career and technical education programs, which provide high school students with real-world training for jobs that need to be filled.

“Over the past six years, we’ve demonstrated that when the broader community comes together and takes on seemingly intransigent issues facing a poverty-stricken area, we can make a difference in people’s lives,”  Weingarten said.

We agree, and welcome the continued committment that Reconnecting McDowell, and all of its public-private partners, have made toward helping youngsters and families across our area. All involved are helping to change young lives for the better in McDowell County and are to be applauded for their efforts.

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