Graduation will be under way for high school seniors in Bibb County this weekend. In 2011, 51 percent of Bibb County students graduated from high school, but at Southwest High School that rate was just at 38 percent.
The organizers with the Promise Neighborhood hope to change that. The group was awarded a $500,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a five-year strategic planning initiative for the Tindall Heights and Unionville areas of Macon. Southwest High School is part of Macon's Promise Neighborhood.
The initiative will help them figure out some of the services, like daycare centers or unemployment services for parents, needed in those neighborhoods to help students graduate from college.
"I'm talking about the type of services that can assist parents, young men to find employment, we're talking of running the complete gamut of services," said Cliffard Whitby.
Whitby is the Vice Chair of Promise Neighborhood and thinks that part of the reason why the high school graduation rate is low because of lack of engagement.
"Well I think one of the primary factors is the breakdown of the family and breakdown of the community and part of promise neighborhoods projects objective is to restore and strengthen the family and the community alike," said Whitby.
Whitby, who is a Southwest graduate himself, said he hopes that when people see Southwest High School's graduation rate, that it will help people become more involved.
"38 percent is atrocious and we ought to all look at this with a sobering reminder that it's time that you reengage in our public school system," said Whitby.
Organizers with the Promise Neighborhood include representatives Mercer University, Central Georgia Technical College, the Bibb County School System and the Macon Housing Authority and 30 other community organizations.
They are continuing to work on the planning initiative.