How a dropout prevention program propelled Rey Saldaña from San Antonio's South Side to Stanford

Rey Saldaña was in second grade when he became a mentee in the Intercultural Development Research Association Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

He credits the IDRA dropout prevention program with helping him envision himself as a high school graduate and establish a stellar university record before becoming the youngest person elected to the San Antonio City Council.

After going on to graduate from South San Antonio High School, Saldaña received a Gates Millennium full academic scholarship to attend Stanford University in California, where he earned two bachelor's degrees in political science and communication, as well as a fifth-year master's degree in policy, organization and leadership studies through Stanford's School of Education. 

Saldaña spoke at the  Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Annual Institute about how the program affected his life. Watch the video:

Watch the video here:


The dropout prevention model was started in 1984 by IDRA in San Antonio and has since been implemented in Detroit, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, among other cities. 

The program works by identifying at-risk junior high and high school students and enlisting them as tutors for struggling elementary students.

Since its inception IDRA says the program has kept 33,200 students in school, young people who were previously considered at risk of dropping out. 
The lives of more than 654,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program.

In September 2015, the program was named a national Hispanic Education “Bright Spot” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. That recognized the program as part of a national online catalog of programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics. 

The announcement was made at the launch of Hispanic Heritage Month and in honor of the initiative’s 25th anniversary in Washington, D.C.