Spotlight: Middle School Engagement

Attendance and success in middle school are critical in keeping students on track for on-time graduation and preparing them to continue their education after high school or secure a self-sustaining job.

January 2019 – This month, United Way is focusing on the Middle School Engagement component of our Steps to Success framework. Why is this Step so important and what are we doing to help? Read some of our featured content to find out!

United Way Programs

Together with VCU’s Mary and Frances Youth Center, we run the Richmond Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI), which ensures out-of-school time programs make elementary and middle school-age students feel safe, engaged and empowered.

Frank Cardella, former educator and United Way’s resident education expert, shared more about YPQI and the importance of this program in our community.

Feature Articles

The best way to learn all about the issue of middle school engagement is to read our two-part feature on the issue:

  • Part I provides an overview of the issue and explains the role of positive youth development in keeping students engaged. Read more.
  • Part II dives deep into the data on how middle schoolers in our region are doing. Read more.

Also, make sure you check out Steps to a Successful School Year: Middle School, by United Way’s Frank Cardella. Frank is a former high school science teacher, education advocate and president of one of the largest educator union affiliates in Virginia.


Our new online data hub tracks data related to middle school engagement. Indicators include SOL scores, attendance and suspensions and expulsions. Learn more and see how our region is doing.

Supported Agencies

Hear from leaders at two of our funded partners that support the Middle School Engagement Step.

United Way supports more than 50 local organizations across all nine Steps to Success. Click here for the full list.