As back-to-school season kicks off, we are reminded of the thousands of students who are falling behind due to a lack of basic tools - inside and outside the classroom. Aimed at decreasing high school dropout rates, Boys & Girls Clubs across New Jersey and the nation launched a new initiative through their after-school programming.

Be Ready targets students transitioning from eighth to ninth grade, a high-risk time for kids, according to David Anderson, head of the Trenton & Mercer County chapter.

"Sixty-two percent of kids drop out between 10th and 11th grade, and we find the eighth to ninth transition is where a lot of kids get lost," Anderson said.

Students at risk of dropping out usually aren't connected to a strong educational base, such as support at home or extra help after class. Be Ready provides youth the opportunity to work with adults who help develop the academic, emotional and social skills necessary to achieve success in transitioning to high school and beyond.

Anderson explained, "(Be Ready) works a lot on connecting education success to career success for kids; that's a lot of goal setting, a lot of career exploration pieces."

The new initiative is part of Boys & Girls Club's Career Launch program, which has been a part of some chapters for six years.

Anderson said about 80% of his chapter's high school seniors are accepted into college, which is two to three times greater than the city average.