In the coming weeks, kids across America will be coming back from summer break and heading back to the classroom. A quality education empowers students to pursue a life of their choosing, but as a new school year kicks off, we’re reminded that many students face significant obstacles to receiving the education they need and want. All students, especially those most vulnerable, deserve support both in and out of the classroom. Without it, we miss out on fully empowering our future leaders to use their unique abilities to transform their own lives and communities.
That’s exactly why we love working with our Catalyst partners who are dedicated to serving young people around the country. By addressing the individual needs of students – relational and emotional, academic and economic – these innovative organizations work to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, can fully realize their potential. This is a key part of Stand Together Foundation’s mission. As you get into the back-to-school spirit, check out and explore the inspiring work of some of the nation’s most effective groups when it comes to working with youth:
- ACE Scholarships, a Denver-based organization, with additional operations throughout the country, creates opportunity and fights poverty by granting financial scholarships to students from low-income families to attend the school of their choice. Ninety percent of ACE students graduate high school – a striking contrast from the 60 percent of high school dropouts from low-income families. Even more remarkably, 74 percent enroll in college – often the first in the family to do so. Over the course of nearly twenty years, the organization has provided 28,000 scholarships worth a total of $65 million and expanded from four states to nine states.
- Education Opens Doors (EOD) equips students with a “Roadmap to Success” – a comprehensive college and career program that exposes middle-school students to critical information about how to apply to and succeed in college. By dedicating classroom time to cultivating a college-ready mindset, students’ knowledge about college has grown by nearly 50 percent, with 77 percent reporting awareness of financial aid options.
- Elevate USA builds long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth so they can thrive and contribute to their communities. Through four programs – including accredited classes, teacher-student mentorship, leadership development, and college and career planning – this approach readies students to succeed in the years leading up to graduation and beyond. Ninety-eight percent of participants are on track to graduate high school, and 86 percent go on to college, technical training, or the military.
- Friends of the Children believes that the presence of a caring, mature adult can transform the life of a child, creating the stability and opportunity needed for long-term success. By pairing at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds with a long-term, professional mentor, the organization works to break the cycle of poverty. Half of program participants have a parent who has been incarcerated, yet ninety-three percent of participants avoid the juvenile justice system. Similarly, sixty percent of program participants have a parent who did not graduate high school, yet 83 percent of participants graduate high school.
- Positive Tomorrows serves students and families of Oklahoma City who are living with chronic homelessness by breaking down barriers to a child’s success academically and socially. Through a range of comprehensive services, including tailored education, meal programs, transportation systems, family support and skill building and extracurricular opportunities, Positive Tomorrows gives some of the most vulnerable students the chance to break the cycle of poverty for good. In the 2017-2018 school year, Positive Tomorrows served 149 students with a 90% average daily attendance rate and math and reading skill improvement across every grade.
- Rise Up for Youth empowers Wichita-area youth to overcome the challenges they were born into through the power of community and education. It’s flagship “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” programs connect students with local role models at monthly workshops, exposes them to educational opportunities through college tours, integrates them into the community through local service-learning and builds a sense of belonging through weekly meetings. Not only do 100 percent of participant seniors graduate, but 70 percent improve or maintain their GPA.
- The Path Project empowers children living in mobile home communities to find their path to high school graduation and beyond. The organization combines educational, relationship building, and leadership development programs to ready students for their future. In a community where dropout rates are incredibly high, The Path Project’s impact is profound: Ninety-five percent of participants attend school regularly, and 87 percent have passing grades in math and reading.
- Thread works to weave what it calls “a new social fabric,” providing a unique network of support to at-risk students in Baltimore who are most academically under-performing and at risk of being trapped in poverty. Each student is surrounded by a “Thread Family” of 4-5 volunteers who support students and their families on an academic and personal level, doing everything from giving rides and packing lunches to connecting struggling families to other sources of support. Students who have been involved with Thread for more than five years graduate at a rate of 88 percent, and 84 percent have been accepted into college.
- Youth Guidance empowers at-risk youth in Chicago through a variety of in-school programs that allow them to get the social and emotional support their home environments often don’t provide. A combination of counseling and community support helps students grappling with trauma and mental health challenges embrace behaviors that prepare them for success. The program has generated a 19 percent increase in on-time graduation and a 30 percent reduction in crime.[AF1]
If you’d like to learn more about any of these groups or get involved visit standtogetheragainstpoverty.org
to see how Stand Together Foundation’s Giving Together Initiative can maximize your impact.