Oyler School at dawn.
Oyler School at dawn. - 

Until eight years ago, almost nobody from Lower Price Hill in Cincinnati finished high school, much less went to college. The neighborhood is Urban Appalachian -- a close-knit community of low-income, mostly white families with roots in Kentucky and West Virginia. The local Oyler School only went through 8th grade. After that, rather than take the bus out of the neighborhood for high school, most kids dropped out.

Then, prompted by a state Supreme Court ruling that found Ohio’s school funding system unconstitutional, the city poured more than a billion dollars into rebuilding its dilapidated schools. The people of Lower Price Hill decided to turn their old neighborhood school into a preschool-12 community learning center. After a $21 million renovation, it’s now a gleaming example of the new thinking about how to educate poorer kids, in a holistic way.

Oyler School is open year-round, from early morning until late at night. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sends hungry kids home with food on the weekends. There’s a health clinic with a nurse practitioner and mental health counselors. Every senior is assigned a mentor who spurs them to graduate and apply to college. Last year, out of 38 seniors, 36 graduated. All of them were accepted to college.

But can a school really transform a neighborhood battered by crime and poverty? Marketplace will check in with Oyler throughout the coming school year to see whether this approach can really help kids and their community overcome the obstacles of poverty. Follow our continuing coverage of One School, One Year.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports