As 2010 approached, Stratford High School, a public school in Nashville, Tennessee, had the district’s lowest attendance, ACT scores, and graduation rate. To help students, the Martha O’Bryan Center decided to move its high school out-of-school-time program directly into the school, but it did so in a very unconventional way.

The Top Floor is the antithesis of a traditional out-of-school-time program. It does not tell students when to attend, how often to attend, or even what to do while they attend. Instead, it focuses on creating a culture that makes students want to attend and participate. This culture believes in them, inspires them, and empowers them. As a result, school culture and achievement are improving: 98 percent of Top Floor seniors have graduated; ACT scores have increased 2.8 points; and Stratford’s college enrollment rate has increased by 56 percent.
This talk by Kent Miller of the Martha O'Bryan Center focuses on the process that led to the Top Floor’s success. It explores how the Martha O'Bryan Center took an old idea, and made it relevant again to the culture and the community it was working with. But, more importantly, it asks viewers to look inwardly to identify the types of poverty that exist in their communities today, and ask what they are doing differently to ensure change. It will engage nonprofit leadership and practitioners to use innovation to not just alleviate, but eradicate.