By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
On the heels to getting a new Chief Executive Officer to run its day-to-day operations, Prince George’s County now cut the ribbon on a new Achievement Center at Greenbelt Middle School. During a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 2, Higher Achievement, a leading education advancement program for middle school youth, enters into the County for the first time to launch a special six-week summer program and begin an after school academy starting the upcoming school year.
The Greenbelt Achievement Center is expected to serve 60 sixth and seventh grade students beginning this fall, who will be mentored by 30 volunteers. These volunteers will be recruited from local businesses, universities and local residents interested in helping students transition from elementary to middle school while trying to prepare them for placement in demanding high school programs that will prepare them for college.
“We are excited to partner with Higher Achievement to help improve outcomes and opportunities for more middle school students. said Dr. Monica E. Goldson, CEO of the Prince George’s County Public Schools. “Higher Achievement’s emphasis on both academic achievement and social emotional learning aligns with our goal of helping students prepare to meet the demands of college and careers.”
According to officials with Higher Achievement, their scholars spend hundreds of hours in middle school during the summer and afterschool participating in academic classes and enrichment programs. They consistently work with their mentors in preparation for placement in rigorous high schools and ultimately on the path to graduating from college.
“Higher Achievement’s expansion into Prince George’s County is driven by need,” said Thalia Washington, Higher Achievement D.C. Metro executive director. “There is a significant need in the County for our approach to serving middle school students. Prince George’s County Public Schools is serious about investing in high quality out-of-school time programming, and we are answering the call.”
Their program is designed to give youth from at-risk communities an opportunity to succeed in post secondary education and in life. Higher Achievement is a research-based program that is structured to challenge middle school students. The mentoring program is designed to help fully develop potential in academics, social skills, and leadership.
Higher Achievement already is operating in the D.M.V. region. There are seven achievement centers across the region that include six in the District stationed in Wards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and Alexandria, VA. It is a nonprofit organization with affiliates in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Richmond.
The organization boasts a 95 percent rate of scholars who complete the program that will graduate high school on time, which is 20 percent higher than the average graduation rates for students who don’t participate in the program in the cities they operate.