Mission & History

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 providing academic and social-emotional tools and encouragement.

Who We Are

We are educators, mentors, community partners, and citizens who are passionate about youth development. We 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 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 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 discuss current events 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

Our scholar population reflects our partner communities: 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 45 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.