About Re-engage Dubuque

Re-engage Dubuque is a community initiative aimed at addressing the needs of those who have recently dropped out of school by connecting them to alternative educational options and post-secondary education.

A partnership consisting of the Dubuque Community School District, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), and Project HOPE and its many partners, Re-engage Dubuque started after many months of planning on the local level while studying best practices from across the country. The model is now receiving accolades of its own as a leader in re-engaging high school dropouts.

The center focuses on engaging youth ages 16 to 21 who drop out from school each year. Center staff work with individual students to develop a personalized plan for completing a high school diploma or GED and exploring options for further study.

“The first year of the Re-engage Dubuque was a great success and this support from NICC helps double our re-engagement efforts,” said Superintendent of Schools Stan Rheingans. “We now have two dedicated staff members helping students who have dropped out realize that there are options for them to finish school. We can then also help connect them to post-secondary and employment options.”

Funding for the program comes through the school district’s dropout prevention funds as well as a $30,000 annual commitment from Northeast Iowa Community College. Project Hope provides funding for staff to meet with students over a cup of coffee or lunch. NICC also provides office space for the re-engagement coaches at the Dubuque Center for Education.

“This partnership between NICC and DCSD contributes to community vitality in the long term,” said President Liang Chee Wee of NICC. “I am reminded of the wisdom of the Iroquois, a league of nations and tribes of indigenous people of North America, that every decision we make now must take the welfare and well-being of seven generations into consideration. Given the success achieved in the first year, I am convinced that Re-engage Dubuque will have long-lasting positive impact on our students now and in the future.”

Statistics show that a drop out is twice as likely to have a job below the poverty guidelines. Upon completion of a high school diploma or HSED, the average hourly earnings of an individual increases from $9.81 per hour to $13.66 per hour. This amount increases to $16.30 per hour with a post-secondary degree and to $25.97 per hour with an advanced degree, which is the program’s ultimate goal for students.

“This center is an example of community partnership that connects individuals to community resources that will greatly improve the quality of life in our region,” said Eric Dregne, vice president of programs for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and a Project HOPE leader. “A more educated workforce is a stronger workforce and our entire community will see great benefits from the success of the center.”