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NBA's Magic Johnson Launching Urban Students Initiative

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Five-time NBA champion Magic Johnson announced a partnership Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader today with EdisonLearning aiming to increase educational opportunities for urban students and to better prepare them for the workforce.

Magic Johnson Enterprises, Johnson's company devoted to improving urban communities, will work with EdisonLearning, an educational services provider, on a dual-front approach to help support urban students, working under the name Magic Johnson-EdisonLearning Assist.

"Improving the quality of life for people residing in urban areas is my life's passion, and through Magic Johnson Enterprises, we have been part of positive change in these communities," Johnson said in a press release. "When just over 40 percent of students in Los Angeles, Houston, and Baltimore are graduating from high school; and less than 30 percent of black males in New York, Detroit, and Miami—steps need to be taken to recapture these students into the education system to better their opportunities in life."

The partnership will establish Magic Johnson Bridgescape Learning Centers to help urban high-school-age students who have either dropped out or are at risk of dropping out earn a high school diploma. EdisonLearning already operates eight Bridgescape Centers in Ohio and will open three new centers in Cincinnati this month.

Bridgescape Centers combines face-to-face learning with online instruction to help tailor instruction to individual student's needs. Each center works with 100 to 150 students at one time.

For urban students still in school, Magic Johnson-EdisonLearning Assist will work with districts to incorporate Alliance School Turnaround Initiatives, which are aimed at boosting student performance in underperforming schools.

Each district will work with an EdisonLearning Achievement Team to design and implement a tailor-made turnaround model for their schools, complete with leadership development, curriculum improvements, and proven assessment systems, according to the initiative. Currently, EdisonLearning is providing school improvement/turnaround services to roughly 80 schools across Virginia, Maryland, Hawaii, Delaware, and Nevada.

"Every student in the United States, regardless of ethnic or economic status, should have access to education that enables them to succeed," said Jeff Wahl, president and CEO of EdisonLearning. "Magic Johnson-EdisonLearning Assist provides an important safety net for students who have left or are at risk of leaving the traditional school setting. The positive impact of their success is important not only for the students themselves and their communities, but also the nation as a whole."

Photo: EdisonLearning President and CEO Jeff Wahl, left, and former NBA great Earvin "Magic" Johnson speak during a news conference announcing Johnson is lending his name and business prowess to an education company to benefit urban schools on Monday in Los Angeles. (Reed Saxon/AP)

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