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Vol. 6 No. 1 (2020): Special Edition

“I was pushed out of school”: Social and Emotional Approaches to a Youth Promotion Program

May 3, 2020


In this study, we analyze the effects of Project GRIT (Generating Resiliency and Inspiring Transformation), a six-week intervention program that worked with a group of high school pushouts, students who were encouraged to leave school, in a school district in southern California. We interviewed thirty-nine former high school students who “dropped out,” or were pushed out of school, 61.5% males (n=24) and 38.5% females (n=15). The mean age is 18.1 years and the sample consists of 27 Latino and 12 African American/Black youth. Findings indicate that an increase in healthy relationships with peers generates beneficial social and emotional skills, including increased communication, team-oriented thinking, projected self-actualization, trust, and development of self. We argue that storytelling is central to engaging and promoting at-promise students in the education system, providing them opportunities to overcome adversity, excel in academics, and expand their ability to build healthy relationships with others in their community.