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PORTLAND, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- Portland Mayor Michael Brennan is launching an initiative to improve education and graduation rates in city schools.

At a news conference at Portland High School Monday morning, Brennan outlined details of the plan, called ConnectED.

The program is still in the planning and coordinating stages, but Brennan said it has several goals, including improving literacy rates, focusing on early childhood education, and working with students from kindergarten all the way through college and professional life.

At the news conference, Mayor Brennan and Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said another major goal of ConnectED is to boost graduation rates. Brennan said high school graduation rates are currently near 80%, and with the help of ConnectED, city officials hope to raise that to 90% by 2016.

"This is an important day for students, and for parents, and for citizens of Portland, because it really defines where we need to go, and where we want to go as a community over the next 5 to 10 years," Brennan said during the news conference.

As part of the program, the city and school district will be working with several organizations, including the John T. Gorman Foundation, Opportunity Alliance, and Portland Public Library.

Also as part of ConnectED, benchmarks will be established to ensure students are meeting and exceeding literacy rates and other educational achievements.

The initiative is already beginning to draw praise from some current students.

"Success starts from a younger age and up," Portland High School senior Amanda Rwirangira said." "If you're already thinking of your future at a younger age, you're more likely to actually go into that profession."

Mayor Brennan said ConnectED will initially be funded by a $75,000 grant from the John T. Gorman foundation. After that, the city hopes to use fundraising initiatives to build an endowment between $2 and $5 million to sustain the program going forward.

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