Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. In Baltimore, DC Metro, and Richmond, Higher Achievement partners with middle school scholars as they pursue their ambitions by offering academic and social-emotional tools and encouragement.
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 learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed.
Who We Are
We are educators, mentors, community partners, and youth development advocates who are passionate about middle school students. We are guided by our five core values: scholar centricity, racial equity, voice and inclusion, the power of community, and striving for greatness.
Scholar Centricity: We seek to empower the scholars we serve. We make every decision with them in mind. We foster authentic relationships with scholars and their families, where we create opportunities with them, not for them.
Racial Equity: We address and acknowledge the systems of oppression that impact our scholars and families, and we work to work to eliminate practices, policies, and messages that perpetuate inequalities. We provide scholars with tools to advocate for themselves to combat racial inequities.
Voice and Inclusion: We recognize the power of voice in an inclusive environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and has a sense of belonging. We acknowledge the power that is held in the voices of all our community and elevate those that have been marginalized. Scholars are encouraged to use their voice to shape their experiences at Center.
The Power of Community: Mentors, school partners, families, staff, alumni, companies, and citizens all make up the fabric of our community. We collaborate with our communities to develop and cultivate mutually beneficial and authentic relationships. We embrace learning, celebrate the uniqueness of each community, and infuse joy within each of the communities we serve.
Striving for Greatness: We set high expectations for ourselves and our scholars, and recognize the unique talents that staff, scholars, and mentors bring to the organization. Higher Achievement has been the subject of two randomized controlled trial studies, both demonstrating a statistically significant effect in academics.
What We Do
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 during these formative years.
Higher Achievement’s model delivers educational support grounded in social justice principles. Our afterschool program for 5th-8th grade scholars combines academic enrichment with social-emotional skill building, culminating in placement in college preparatory high schools.
Academic Enrichment and Homework Support: Higher Achievement’s academic enrichment activities sharpen scholars’ reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking, and writing and presentation skills. During learning blocks, scholars participate in educational electives, work on high school applications, and complete their homework with support from staff.
Mentoring for High School Readiness: Scholars work with a mentor weekly to define and pursue their personal and educational goals, gain awareness of high school, college, and career options, and take steps to access those options. Scholars and families meet one-on-one with staff quarterly to define their personal and educational goals and develop a plan to reach them.
Social-Emotional Skill Building Rooted in Social Justice: Academic curriculum and activities are grounded in social justice and the development of social-emotional skills. During mentoring and community meetings, scholars are given the tools and space to understand and manage their emotions, build empathy, and advance their leadership skills. Mentors and staff establish meaningful relationships with scholars and help them to identify, harness, express, and build confidence in their innate abilities.
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.
Our scholars are brimming with talent, ambition, humor, and big dreams. They are a reflection of our partner communities in Baltimore, DC, Prince George’s County, and Richmond, with 68% of scholars identifying as Black and 19% as Latinx.
No two scholars are alike, but all leave our program with the confidence and skills to succeed in high school and beyond.