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Magic Johnson Launches Initiative for At-Risk Students, Dropouts

NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson launched a new initiative yesterday aimed at helping at-risk students and dropouts across the nation graduate from high school.

The Friends of Magic program will enlist high-profile volunteers to provide support and resources for students at risk of dropping out of high school or those who have already dropped out, according to the website of the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. The schools, which are free alternative high school programs for at-risk students, emphasize online and personalized learning to allow students to tackle subjects at their own pace.

Johnson debuted the Friends of Magic program in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago yesterday, where he launched the latest Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy. He was joined by rapper Common and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for the ceremonial opening.

"It means a lot to have someone like Magic Johnson make this important investment in the students of Illinois," the governor said in a statement. "We must remember that it is everyone's responsibility to help students who are struggling by keeping them in school or on the road to recovery. I thank Magic for bringing attention to this cause, especially as someone who knows that—either on the court or in the classroom—you can accomplish great things if you never give up."

"As many as one-quarter of our nation's students are not finishing high school, our goal is to ensure that no student falls through the cracks, and that all students have the opportunity to receive their high school diplomas and be fully prepared for college or the workplace," Johnson said. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring our Bridgescape program to Chicago, and greatly appreciate the support we have received from the community."

The Lawndale academy has 150 students currently enrolled, local news station WGN reported. Chicago school officials approved the academy in January, according to Catalyst Chicago.

Five states currently have such academies, the Bridgescape website says. By the end of the year, there will be 40 such location across the U.S., Johnson told CBS Chicago.

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