Move the Middle

About Move the Middle

Move the Middle is a bold initiative ensuring every middle schooler is on track to graduate.

Did you know?

33% of our area 9th graders aren't on track to graduate.

Dropouts ...

  • are more likely to engage in criminal behavior or require social services — almost 60% of federal inmates are high school dropouts
  • cost taxpayers more than $8 billion annually in public assistance programs
  • earn about $10,000 less a year than workers with diplomas and are more likely to be unemployed — 15% are out of work compared to the national average of 9.4%

Why middle school?

The transition to middle school is a complex time for students, often associated with a decline in academic achievement, motivation, and self-perception. As children begin getting off track, whether academically, socially, or emotionally, it's highly unlikely they will ever recover without intervention.

Research has shown that in order to alter the path of a student who is likely to become a dropout, you must identify that student and offer them assistance as early as in their middle school years.

In one school year we have ...

  • implemented Move the Middle at Lincoln Middle School
  • hired United Way Achievement Advocates to work with middle school students, parents, teachers, and United Way partners
  • launched an Early Warning and Response System to identify struggling students and provide intervention and support
  • brought Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to Winnebago and Ogle counties, providing children there with a free book each month for the first five years of their life
  • funded social-emotional intervention programming including individual trauma counseling, an out of school suspension program, and social-emotional group therapy

Now more than ever, middle schools need United Way

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, middle school students face even more challenges.

  • Students may be returning to school with symptoms of PTSD.
  • More middle school families are experiencing unemployment, food instability, and evictions.
  • COVID-19 is greatly impacting academic success of middle school students.

How you can help

Your donation supports middle school success with programs such as Move the Middle and Strong Neighborhoods. Together, we are ensuring all middle schoolers are on track to graduate and families have the support they need to flourish.




Learn more about how Move the Middle is making a difference by reading Dominic's story. On the brink of becoming a dropout, Dominic is now on the path to reaching his full potential.