Chairman 2017-2018
April Spears
The high school dropout rate in San Antonio was spiraling out of control.  In the 1994-95 school year, JUST UNDER 30,000 STUDENTS IN TEXAS dropped out of high school, and San Antonio’s rate was one of the worst in the state.  “What can we do to help stop this spiral?” a Rotarian in the San Antonio Rotary club asks.  His name was Sam Riklin.  He came up with a novel idea to “Pay” at-risk children to stay in school and graduate… a scholarship for high school seniors, as it were.  He funded it with his own money and called it Diploma Plus
Marshall member Jim Fitzgerald had the opportunity to hear Sam present his novel idea to a group of incoming district governors in San Antonio, and proposed the idea to the Marshall Rotary Club.  Like him they thought it was worth trying and voted to find two At-Risk students in the Marshall high school and give them scholarships of $50 a month. To make a long story short, the idea worked then, and continues to work today.  From the very beginning, it was an unbelievable success. Every Diploma Plus student we sponsored so far has graduated with their classmates.  Most have continued their education, some have graduated college.  These were and still are children from broken homes, children with low self esteem, and financial problems, but we believed in them and were willing to help them and stand by them, consequently they regained the hope that somehow they could do the impossible… graduate, and they DID! 
 The program works through the school councilors who help identify and then track the recipients.  The applications are reviewed and recipients selected by the club.  To qualify for the stipend the student must maintain a 95% attendance record and a "C" or better average for each of the school's grading cycles.The goal of Diploma-Plus was then, and is now, to keep these at-risk and financially challenged students in school until graduation), thereby utilizing the existing resources of the public and private educational resources to fulfill their role and to supplement their effectiveness by keeping the students in school and by motivating them to learn.
Diploma-Plus Background
The program focuses on the three main dropout causes:
(1) POOR ATTENDANCE, which leads to the second cause,
In the 2006-07 school year, a total of 202,099 students in Grades K-12 were retained in grade.
The Rotary Club of Marshall adopted the program in 1998 with a gift of $5,000.00 from PDG Jim & Georganna Fitzgerald.  An additional gift of $1,000.00 was given to the club by Sam Riklin himself.
Two high school juniors were chosen from Marshall High School in May of 1998 to receive the award for the school year 1998-1999.  Both graduated and went on to attend college.
 An unbroken string of graduating Diploma-Plus students have walked the stage and received their diplomas at every graduation ceremony since then.  A fundraiser was set up to provide funds for the program and insure its continued success, far into the future.
The dropout problem isn’t just “their” problem. By the year 2000, over 50% of all new workers will be minorities, and over 90% of all jobs will require at least a high school diploma. There is a tremendous cost to be paid as a result of the dropout problem, and our community, our businesses, and our own pocketbooks are paying that price!
1.         1 out of 4 Dropouts Is Unemployed As Compared to 1 out of 10 High School Graduates
 2.         The median income of Dropouts is 30% lower than for high school graduates.
 3.         Expected lifetime earnings of Dropouts is one-third less than that of high school graduates and one-half that of college graduates.
 4.         The lost tax revenues from the Dropouts of one year is estimated to exceed $68 billion over their lifetime.
 5.         Public expenditures for welfare, indigent health care, and criminal activities attributed to Dropouts is estimated to be $29 billion annually.
 6.         It is estimated that if all 19-23 year-olds were to obtain high school diplomas, the incidence of arrests in that age group would decrease by over 90%. Over 60% of all jail inmates did not graduate from high school.