CLEVELAND -- Some would have given up on them but not Project Love.
Five years ago, then-Collinwood High School Principal Deborah Moore identified the eighth grade girls entering the school at greatest risk for dropping out in the next year.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, Collinwood High School had a graduation rate of 52.7 percent in 2009-2010, lower than the overall Cleveland Metropolitan School District average of 62.8 percent.
Moore used criteria, including failing test scores on the Ohio achievement test, a high level of absences, suspensions, or high age for grade level.
Seventy-two girls were identified and 71 entered Project Love's "Believe to Achieve" four-year trial program aimed at providing the skills and support needed to encourage the teenagers to stay in school.
This month, 51 of the young women who entered the program as ninth graders received diplomas -- 71 percent of those who began the program.
In addition, seven others are expected to successfully complete the Ohio Graduation Test.
Many will attend college. Even more remarkable, eight of the top 11 academic achievers honored at commencement were "Believe to Achieve" participants.