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The organization was established over 50 years ago and works “to change the trajectory of high-potential Black youth by providing unique programming in the classroom and beyond.” Their scholars complete a four-year fellowship that includes academic enrichment, leadership development, career exposure, mentoring and college access.
Students must maintain a grade point average near 3.0 to remain in good standing with the organization — a bar the organization sets knowing full well that access to scholarships and grants for college will be the only way that most of its students can afford to go. Not all students meet this threshold despite mentoring from caring adults and strong support from administrative staff. Thus additional academic supports are needed.
Over many years, EE provided programs to help get students back on track if they started to flounder and to establish academic habits that put them on a trajectory for success. We started by offering weekly group tutoring events at the organization’s facility that not only helped students with homework completion and exam prep but also provided lessons on learning strategies, goal setting, and self-advocacy. However, traveling to the facility after school was a burden for some scholars, so EE tutors also met students at libraries and other public locations to provide support in specific subject areas where students requested help. Year after year we met with administrators and added additional resources: a summer school study skills workshop for freshmen and final exam prep workshops for all grade levels. Our unique array of programs allowed the organization to support their scholars at every stage of their academic journey.
The mission of the organization is to fight for economic mobility among highly motivated, first-generation college students by providing mentoring and intensive career development. The agency was founded on the belief that socioeconomic status should not be a barrier to college persistence and career success.
Their staff found that many of their participants were struggling with writing assignments of all sorts in college. From essays in English class to writing cover letters for potential summer internships, many students were not effective writers. The organization provided various career development workshops throughout the academic year, but they lacked a writer’s workshop to specifically address this area of weakness.
We met with program managers and the executive director to discuss their students’ needs and what type of program would be beneficial. The Writer’s Practice Workshop was an ideal fit for them. The course allowed students to understand that everyone is a writer even if they don’t think of themselves as such. Over the course of four sessions students assessed their own writing process; discussed the tools of a good writer’s practice; considered the audience, purpose, and the needs of any piece; and produced writing on topics that were important to them. Students left the workshop with a greater understanding of how to start assignments and follow steps to revise, edit, and polish for best results, giving them confidence in their writing.
The organization’s mission is to provide opportunities for underserved youth to achieve academic and personal success via financial, educational and personal support during their high school years. They provide tuition assistance to attend a high-quality school along with the guidance and commitment of caring, adult mentors. They aim to serve an often overlooked segment: academically “average” students from the city’s most challenging and underserved neighborhoods.
Program staff wanted to help their students prepare for final exams and train mentors to more effectively support students in their exam prep efforts. Volunteer mentors were available to give support, but the organization lacked a consistent approach on how best to help students and make them better learners.
EE met with program administrators and board members to plan and implement a Final Exams Workshop in the lead-up to final exams. The 3-hour workshop was attended by students and their mentors on a Saturday morning. The curriculum helped students create DIY study guides for any class, plan a study schedule, prioritize final exams by difficulty and need, assess and discuss their strengths and weaknesses in regards to learning strategies, and share with peers their successes or concerns. We also facilitated a conversation between mentors and mentees as to how they could best support their students in the coming weeks. Students and mentors left the workshop with a blueprint for attacking finals week in the most efficient way — a plan they could use for high school and college.
The organization supported immigrants and their families by connecting women from over 60 countries who share a dedication to the pursuit of global understanding and universal human rights. As part of their philanthropic arm, the organization supported a local elementary school they had identified as highly diverse with a large number of immigrant students. Before engaging EE, the organization relied mostly on volunteers to provide reading support to students during school hours.
After discussions with the organization and the school principal, teachers, families, and other stakeholders, we developed a school year calendar of after school programs that would help students develop the skills needed to succeed in elementary school and beyond. We provided courses for grades 5-8 in the spring and fall, greatly expanding the enrichment opportunities the NFP was able to provide. In doing so, we developed a close relationship with the school administration and their teaching staff, who saw the positive impact the program was having on their students. Additionally, the NFP was able to expand their mission to areas where they saw a great need: improving study skills, raising test scores, and increasing access to high school opportunities for immigrant youth.
A scholarship foundation funded by a suburban country club was disappointed with the caliber of student who typically applied for their college scholarship offerings. Knowing that the skills needed for success in college must be cultivated from an early age, they wanted to establish a summer enrichment program for students entering 9th and 10th grade that would serve as an early intervention and better position the pool of applicants when the time came a few years later to apply for the college scholarships.
We collaborated with the foundation to identify areas of strength and weakness in their applicant pool and listened to their personal beliefs about what it takes to succeed in college. With that understanding, we customized a version of the Summer Learners’ Workshop that lays the foundation for college-level skills and caters to the learning styles and academic backgrounds of the particular students at this organization.
The resulting program has gained a reputation as one of the top summer enrichment experiences in that community with parents routinely reporting that the results exceeded their expectations. The program is now attended by an even wider array of students than those who were first targeted by the foundation.
A charter school network was seeking to implement a test prep program across eight campuses to prepare their 8th grade students for the Chicago Public Schools selective enrollment entrance exam. The high school admissions process is highly competitive, and it was the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when students were learning from home. The schools did not have expert knowledge about the contents of the test, and finding staff at their schools to cover a program outside of school hours would be challenging. Administrators knew how competitive the admissions process was and that even their strongest students were not guaranteed a spot. For equity, they wanted to offer the course to all of their students – even those who were very unlikely to be admitted to a selective enrollment school.
Given the wide array of students, the EE team worked with individual school counselors to create ability groupings, determine a process for reporting attendance, progress, and behavior issues, and create a curriculum that would be effective in a remote learning model. We knew that remote engagement for an after school program would be a challenge, so we incorporated competitive team games, a leaderboard of accomplishments, and other incentives to encourage maximum participation. EE provided all management and instructional staffing to deliver the test prep course successfully while freeing up teachers and counselors at the charter school to focus on their daily workload. Students received a robust course focused on strategies, practice tests, and concept review that put them in the best position to maximize their potential on test day.
A leading scholarship fund that provides financial assistance for highly qualified, low-income students knew that financial aid alone would be insufficient to ensure their students’ success at rigorous private and parochial high schools. Therefore, they sought an intensive summer program to prepare scholars for what lay ahead.
EE worked with the organization to determine the biggest challenges scholars would face. We landed on a wide array of non-cognitive skills that are not necessarily taught in middle school: time management, organization, self-advocacy, focus, growth mindset, etc. Inspired by this challenge, we developed our Ideal Student Workshop, which would later become the basis for our Learners’ Workshop.
Over a decade later we are still delivering the program to students at this scholarship fund and others. The program works to develop the three dimensions of successful students: character, learning strategies and habits. We update the program yearly to keep up with changes in student needs and the educational landscape. Our fun and research-based curriculum continues to be a popular summer bridge for various organizations.
A prominent sports-based youth development organization wanted to improve one of the core elements of their program: providing educational enrichment programs to their participants.
Their goal was to offer a continuum of services for 9th-12th graders that would support students in their schoolwork, provide a pathway to college, and create a culture of learning amongst players. EE was uniquely positioned to offer a variety of services to meet this need: private tutoring, study skills classes, writing courses, high school admissions test prep, SAT/ACT prep, and college readiness seminars. We listened to the players, parents, and other stakeholders to determine which programs were most effective, established expectations for participants, and decided on the best timing and format to deliver the courses.
Since 2017 we have successfully delivered these services allowing their administrative team to focus on their primary coaching responsibilities. Ultimately, the best praise we have received is that we have provided a wide circle of caring adults to support students academically and emotionally and that we have listened to their needs and adapted our offerings to suit their participants.