Business leader Rick Rieder is supporting an academic program co-led by Emory's Office of University-Community Partnerships. PHOTO VIA EMORY UNIVERSITY

Rick Rieder, a New York business leader and member of the Emory University Board of Trustees, has made a gift of $1 million to Emory to help create a program that will address some of the academic and socio-economic challenges that can affect high school dropout rates.

The funds will be used to support Graduation Generation-Atlanta, an initiative led by Emory’s Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP) and the Atlanta nonprofit Communities in Schools of Atlanta, in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools. The initiative involves community builders from higher education; philanthropic foundations; and national, state and local nonprofit agencies. These partners are focusing on factors within the school setting, including the engagement of parents, as well as factors within students’ communities.

Graduation Generation-Atlanta will begin with sixth grade students at Sammye E. Coan Middle School, an Atlanta Public School in Atlanta’s Edgewood community. Coan Middle School will be the center of much activity, and student progress will be tracked throughout middle school with the goal of bolstering students’ academic achievement not only in middle school but also as they matriculate through high school and beyond.

“This gift from Rick Rieder helps to forge a relationship between OUCP and Communities in Schools and to strengthen relationships each has established in local communities and with local schools,” says Emory Provost Earl Lewis. “The program it supports will benefit students in the adjacent neighborhood and Emory students and faculty who participate in the partnership. We thank Rick for his commitment to the dream we all share.”

The Graduation Generation-Atlanta program will include curriculum enrichment activities at the school, such as project-based learning opportunities that link hands-on learning activities to classroom learning, and will connect students and their family-to-family support services in the community.

“We have a window in our society today to do something very special, given the current level of support for education at the national, state and local government levels,” says Rieder. “We have the opportunity to unlock and develop the talent of so many of our kids who otherwise may not have been given a fighting chance to succeed.”

Emory students from a wide range of academic disciplines will be trained to mentor and tutor Coan Middle School students both during and after school hours. Scholarships will fund participation of youth in Atlanta’s Edgewood community. Emory’s middle- and high-school learning camps will support community-based summer programs in math, the sciences, technology, reading and writing, health and fitness, and college and career preparation. Emory University also has committed an additional $500,000 in support of the initiative.

Rieder, an alumnus of Emory’s Goizueta Business School, is chief investment officer of fixed income for fundamental portfolios with BlackRock, an assets and investments management firm. Passionate about urban educational improvement in the United States, he is a member of the National Leadership Council of Communities In Schools. He also chairs the board of trustees of North Star Academy Charter School of Newark. In 2005 he received the Goizueta Business School Distinguished Alumni award.

An event to launch the Graduation Generation project is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 at Coan Middle School, 1550 Hosea Williams Drive, NE, Atlanta, 30317. Call Keith Bromery, Atlanta Public Schools, 404-802-2829, or Elaine Justice, Emory University, 404-727-0643, for more information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post originally appeared on Emory’s news and information site. Please contact Elaine Justice for more information.