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Mission & History

Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. In Baltimore, DC Metro, and Richmond, Higher Achievement steps up to support scholars in systemically under-resourced communities with the tools and encouragement they deserve to pursue their ambitions.

Who We Are

We are educators, mentors, community partners, and citizens who see inequity in our communities and are driven to do something about it. Middle school is a pivotal time for academic and social development that sets young people up for post-secondary success, and at Higher Achievement, we are committed to helping students define and pursue their personal and educational goals.

Our Mission

Higher Achievement closes the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement’s proven model provides a rigorous afterschool learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed.

What We Do

Higher Achievement’s model delivers academic enrichment through a holistic approach grounded in social justice principles. Our afterschool program for 5th-8th grade scholars combines small-group, high-impact tutoring with social-emotional skill building, culminating in placement in college preparatory high schools.

Academic Enrichment and Social-Emotional Learning

Educational support delivered with a holistic approach​. Scholars participate in small-group, high-impact literacy tutoring that develops their reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and writing skills. Additional blended learning time is offered that aligns with their in-school lessons and academic goals. Throughout programming, scholars build social-emotional skills meeting the unique needs of middle school students of color.

College Prep High School Readiness

Middle school isn’t the last stop. Mentors work with scholars weekly to take steps to identify, apply, and enroll in college preparatory high school programs. Scholars and families meet one-on-one with staff quarterly to define their personal and educational goals and develop a plan to reach them. Our 9th-grade program prepares scholars for a successful transition to high school through semi-annual check-ins, quarterly events, and program referrals.​

Social Justice Pillars

Striving for equity is at the heart of our work. Academic curriculum and activities are grounded in our four social justice pillars—voice, freedom, justice, and solidarity. Community Meetings incorporate discussion of current events through a social justice lens, and during mentoring, scholars engage with articles related to the four themes. Scholars are encouraged to live out the pillars during program, such as using their voice by making decisions at center.

An Evidence-Based Approach

Higher Achievement has been the subject of two randomized controlled trial studies, both demonstrating a statistically significant effect in academics.

The 2013 study resulted in positive findings in test scores, high school placement, and family engagement. A second RCT, published in July 2020, again found statistically significant results – this time with report card grades.

Our program model produces results, even in adaptation. We continue to engage and align closely with scholars, families, schools, and community partners to best serve scholars as they define and pursue their dreams.

Who We Serve

Our scholar population reflects the communities where we work: 75% identify as Black and 12% as Latinx, and students join us with a range of academic performance and levels of support in and out of school.

No two scholars are alike, but we are all united in a strong belief in our four social justice pillars—voice, freedom, justice, and solidarity—and all students leave the program ready and able to realize their potential, regardless of where they started.

No two scholars are alike, but we are all united in a strong belief in our four social justice pillars—voice, freedom, justice, and solidarity.

Where We’ve Been

For more than 40 years, Higher Achievement has worked alongside schools and families, foundations and government, and volunteers and community members to create lasting outcomes for all youth, regardless of neighborhood.