Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tweet of the Day: What We're Thankful For

@LLShots: Tonight my 7th grade scholar created a list of 15 things she was thankful 4 incl. mentors, freedom, HAP, love & Shakespeare.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Higher Achievement Thanks Fest: Ward 6 Style

By Moraya Seeger-Jackson, Ward 6 ACD

Every year, Higher Achievement hosts region wide Thanks Fests at all Achievement Centers. This year, the Ward 6 Achievement Center welcomed over 200 families, mentors and scholars in celebration of the event. Thanks Fest, designed to provide a platform for sharing what we’re thankful for, was led by the Ward 6 Ambassador, Johnnie Kennybrew. Johnnie reflected on how Ward 6 scholars had given back to the larger community within the past few weeks: scholars wrote letters to soldiers thanking them for their services, and collected both food and money to be donated to families in DC.

During the program, parents and mentors had an opportunity to share what they were thankful for. For Ward 6 families, Thanks Fest was an opportunity to highlight that Higher Achievement is so much more then an academic enrichment program; it’s a family. A sixth grade parent spoke about what a positive influence Higher Achievement has had on her daughter as a person, not just on her grades.

After the program, the Ward 6 community shared in a Thanksgiving style feast, complete with plenty of family games and camaraderie. Mentors played chess, monopoly and spades with scholars and their siblings; 8th graders participated in a very intense double dutch competition; and parents simply enjoyed taking it all in. At the end of the night, everyone left happy, full, and with just enough energy to take a family photo on their way out.

See below for photos from our event.

Ms. Gwen, an 8th grade High School Placement mentor, shares her favorite fun dessert.

Scholars and mentors lead by AmeriCorps Fellow collected donations for families in D.C.

Scholars enjoy playing the game of life with siblings and mom.

A 7th grade scholar with her parents, whose father is also a 6th grade math mentor.

Alumni return to spend time with scholars.

Ms. Amy with her 7th grade mentoring group and their parents.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

GoingPlaces! Benefit - A Night to Remember!

In partnership with a team of DC business leaders, Higher Achievement presented its third annual GoingPlaces! Benefit on Thursday, October 14 at the Warner Theatre. The co-chair team included Mitchell N. Schear (Vornado/Charles E. Smith), Michael J. Glosserman (JBG Companies), and Edward L. Cohen, Mark D. Lerner & Robert K. Tanenbaum (Lerner Enterprises). Higher Achievement also honored Steve Goldstein at the event, longtime champion and supporter of Higher Achievement. The program featured poetry and step performances by Higher Achievement middle school scholars and a musical performance from the Austin, TX-based band, SKYROCKET. The event raised over $550,000 to support Higher Achievement's work with middle school scholars in the DC area.

See photo highlights below!

From left to right: Tariq West, Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Mark Lerner, Steve Goldstein, Michael Glosserman, Ed Cohen, and Mitchell Schear pause on stage after the program.

Ward 8 scholars open the evening with a moving step performance choreographed by Step Afrika!

Former Higher Achievement Executive Director, Maureen Holla, and CEO Richard Tagle enjoy a laugh in front of the camera.

Alumnus Tariq West shares a high-five with Ray Ritchie of Boston Properties after delivering a powerful address about Higher Achievement's impact on his life.

The Literary Love Poetry Performance
February 23, 2011
at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Budget Cuts and Out-of-School Time Programs: Why We Can't Skimp Now

Out-of-school time (OST) programs are a critical component of educating all students - learning (whether formal or informal) doesn’t end at 3pm - yet when education funding tightens, these programs are often first on the chopping block. Sean Cavanagh at Education Week wrote today about a new report from the National Governors Association outlining the recession's impact on state education funding:

The lean era for education is also likely to last for at least a few years. State revenues aren't expected to return to pre-recession levels until at least 2013, the report states. The seriousness of state budget woes have led state officials in Texas and Florida to consider increasing class sizes. Maine officials consolidated school districts across the state two years ago, with the goal of saving $36.5 million. Other victims of budget shortfalls, identified by the NGA: after school programs, gifted-and-talented programs, and even state tests in some subjects. Expect more budgetary pain in the time ahead.

The impact of these cuts are even more significant for poor and minority students - even in a stable economy, high quality, positive learning opportunities for these students are scarce.

Schools, districts, and states can mitigate the need to cut funding for afterschool and summer programs by partnering with community-based providers that bring the know-how, the variety, and the private dollars into schools to provide these types of opportunities.

At Higher Achievement, "opportunities matter" is our mantra - we know that every single child possesses the talent and potential to achieve great things. When the economy is struggling, we have an even bigger obligation to pull together resources from all sectors - private, public, and non-profit - to make certain that our children have the opportunities they deserve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

With today’s awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, four D.C. organizations in last two years have been nationally recognized

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jenny Towns
Phone: 202-657-2595

With today’s awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, four DC organizations in the last two years have been nationally recognized for outstanding programs for the District’s youth

Washington, DC – The President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities announced this year’s award winners of The National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards (formerly known as the Coming Up Taller Awards) today, naming two more award winners from the Washington area; Mentors of Minorities in Education's Total Learning Cis-Tem (M.O.M.I.E.s TLC) and Young Playwrights’ Theater, following recognition of Sitar Arts Center and Higher Achievement in 2009. The award shines attention on outstanding programs across the country that are promoting the creativity of America's young people, providing them learning opportunities and the chance to contribute to their communities. Ed Spitzberg, Executive Director of Sitar Arts Center, said “The President’s Committee’s recognition of programs in one city – our nation’s capital – illustrates not only the great work done by afterschool arts and humanities programs in D.C., but also the great need for it.”

With over 170 awards given out nationally since 1998 and only three organizations in Washington, DC awarded during those first ten years, having four local organizations recognized in the last two years is notable. “We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that these DC-based programs are essential investments in the lives of our children and families,” said Chitra Subramanian Deputy Director for M.O.M.I.E’s TLC. All four awarded organizations are providing safe and productive after-school programs to young people in high-risk areas of the city where gang activity and violent crimes are high.

Higher Achievement’s rigorous after-school and summer academic programs give youth from at-risk communities their best opportunity to succeed in middle school – and in life. The program operates achievement centers in Washington, DC (Wards 1, 4, 6, 7, 8) and Alexandria, VA, and focuses on three key areas: academics, social skills, and leadership.
The mission of M.O.M.I.E's TLC is to nurture the genius of children through creative and culturally-relevant learning Programs. Focusing on early childhood and school-age children in Ward 1 and Ward 4, M.O.M.I.E’s offers year-round education Programs that uniquely integrate humanities and culture-based teaching.

Sitar Arts Center in Adams Morgan provides a vital after-school safe-haven at its multidisciplinary arts center where children and youth of all ages, 80% of whom come from low income households, can discover their inherent gifts in a nurturing, creative community.
Young Playwrights’ Theater in Columbia Heights teaches students to express themselves clearly and creatively, to understand the power of language and to realize their potential as both individuals and artists through the art of playwriting with interactive in-school and after-school programs.

With all four of these organizations operating within a mile and a half radius in the adjoining neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, their programs in that area are serving the same population, with crossover among students and teachers, including some direct partnerships. In the past three years since the recession began, enrollment at Sitar Arts Center alone has increased by 72%, demonstrating the urgent need for these programs, which are providing positive choices for the students of our city. “All of DC’s young people deserve the opportunity to learn, grow, and excel, and we’re proud to be in the company of organizations doing such essential work to make that possible,” said Richard Tagle, CEO of Higher Achievement.

While on-going attempts have been made to reform the DC public schools over the past decade, all of these organizations have been working to fill the gap left by public school education for ten years or more: providing high expectations, caring adult mentors, education in the arts and humanities, and opportunities to build self-esteem and skills. "As school administrations come and go, our programs have been a constant in students' lives. We help students grow into active, well-rounded individuals who can engage the world with their ideas" said David Snider, Producing Artistic Director and CEO of Young Playwrights' Theater. These four organizations, as recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, are providing exceptional and imperative programs, forming a safety net of services in Ward 1 where they are clustered, in addition to other areas across the city where similar services are needed.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Real Estate Titans Team Up With Higher Achievement for 3rd Annual GoingPlaces! Benefit


Over $550,000 Raised for Middle School Academic Enrichment Program

(Washington, DC – October 12, 2010) In partnership with a team of DC business leaders, Higher Achievement ( will present its third annual GoingPlaces! Benefit on Thursday, October 14 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. The co-chair team includes Mitchell N. Schear (Vornado/Charles E. Smith), Michael J. Glosserman (JBG Companies), and Edward L. Cohen, Mark D. Lerner & Robert K. Tanenbaum (Lerner Enterprises). Higher Achievement will honor Steve Goldstein at the event, longtime champion and supporter of Higher Achievement. The program will also feature poetry and dance performances by Higher Achievement middle school scholars and a musical performance from the Austin, TX-based band, SKYROCKET!.

“The DC business community has shown a tremendous amount of support for Higher Achievement,” said Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Executive Director of Higher Achievement DC Metro. “This is the first time in the history of the GoingPlaces! Benefit that we’ve had five co-chairs, and it’s remarkable to see first-hand how their involvement impacts the lives of our scholars – everything from study supplies to field trips to special electives are possible because of support from our sponsors and guests.”
As a part of the event program, Higher Achievement will honor Steve Goldstein, retired Vice Chairman of Studley, former Chair of the DC Metro President’s Council and longtime supporter of Higher Achievement. “Steve has been actively involved with Higher Achievement for more than 25 years,” said Jeffries. “He has connected us with countless partners and donors, offered unconditional support and advice, and leveraged more than $1,000,000 in his time with us. Steve is a true believer in our scholars and a relentless champion of our work.”

The GoingPlaces! Benefit will begin with a cocktail reception at 6pm and a performance and award presentation featuring Higher Achievement scholars at 7pm. Dinner and dancing will follow.


About Higher Achievement

Higher Achievement’s rigorous after-school and summer academic program gives youth from at-risk communities their best opportunity to succeed in middle school — and in life. Our research-based program challenges middle school students to meet their full potential in three key areas: academics, social skills, and leadership. When students get the skills and support they need to invest in their own success, they discover that they can be scholars. On average, 95% of Higher Achievement scholars who complete the program advance to top academic high schools and 93% advance to college. Higher Achievement currently operates achievement centers in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA and Baltimore, and will launch two new centers in Richmond in 2011.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Higher Achievement Partners with Up with People!

Thanks to long time supporters and board members Carlos Garcia and Bo Menkiti, Higher Achievement has been selected as one of three beneficiaries in the Washington, DC area who will partner with Up with People, a global education organization focused on bringing the world together through service and music. The Up with People cast members will share their talents in two showcases on October 22nd and 23rd, and the proceeds benefit Higher Achievement, D.C. Public Schools and Dance Place.

Up with People’s all-new production, “A Song for the World,” will take you on a tour around the world and back in time to the 50s, 60s and 70s. The show blends together original and popular songs ranging from traditional folk music, to hip-hop and rock. In between rehearsal times, Up with People will visit three Higher Achievement centers to engage scholars in activities such as diversity talks, geography trivia and a mini culture fair.

Tickets are on sale now at! If you are interested in participating, but are unable to attend the show, please consider sponsoring a group of young people. For $120, you or your company can provide tickets for 10 students, giving them the chance to see Up with People, an international show that spreads a message of hope and possibility by encouraging and inspiring youth to do the same.
If you have questions, need more information or are interested in volunteering with Up with People on National Make a Difference Day, please contact Chelsey Panchot at 218.355.0239 or

Event Details:

Who: Up with People
What: 'A Song for the World'—sponsored by Keller Williams Capital Properties
When: October 22, 2010 and October 23, 2010, 7:30 pm
Where: Columbia Heights Educational Campus - 3101 16th St NW, Washington, DC
Tickets: Adults-$20/$25 at the door
Kids- $15/$18 at the door
Beneficiaries: Higher Achievement, DC Public Schools, and Dance Place

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

OST Funding Threatens to Divide a Community

In 2009, as part of a coalition for afterschool policy convened by the Afterschool Alliance, Higher Achievement signed onto a letter to President Barack Obama, asking for his support for an increase of $250 million in FY 2011 for funding of out-of-school time programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Now, almost a year later, the requested $250 million dollar increase has leveled out at $100 million, and the out-of-school time community is divided on how the allotment of these new funds will affect overall programming of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). 21st CCLC are currently designated to support after-school, before-school and summer learning programs, but with revisions from the current administration, many are concerned that experimentation with an extended learning day will over shadow the aforementioned program components.

Considering all of this, Higher Achievement is hopeful that three key components will remain at the top of the discussion:

There is a clear need. According to the Afterschool Alliance report “America After 3pm,” 15 million children are left unsupervised after school. To ensure that young people are safe and engaged in meaningful activities after school, it is critical that communities are able to offer more opportunities that engage youth outside of the traditional school day and year. Higher Achievement calls on policymakers to carry out the Senate HELP committee’s proposed $100 million increase for the 21st CCLC funding stream to ensure greater access to programs and activities for youth.

High quality is essential. Opportunities provided to young people should be of the highest quality, built upon research-based best practices for serving youth, including research on serving particular populations, age ranges, program field characteristics, and more. Poor and minority students living in the most vulnerable communities particularly need rigorous programs of the highest quality to ensure they have the same chances for success as their more privileged peers. High quality programs also incorporate best practices around staff development and training and other internal organizational best practices.

It takes a community. Legislation should encourage collaboration between schools/districts and community-based providers, as they combine to meet the year-round needs of youth both in and out of school. Collaboration must be grounded in aligned common goals and mutual accountability to be effective.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Higher Achievement Alumna Responds to Obama's Recent Back-to-School Speech

You see, excelling in school or in life isn’t mainly about being smarter than everybody else. It’s about working harder than everybody else. Don’t avoid new challenges – seek them out, step out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help; your teachers and family are there to guide you. Don’t feel discouraged or give up if you don’t succeed at something – try it again, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t feel threatened if your friends are doing well; be proud of them, and see what lessons you can draw from what they’re doing right.

That’s the kind of culture of excellence you promote here at Masterman; and that’s the kind of excellence we need to promote in all America’s schools. That’s why today, I’m announcing our second Commencement Challenge. If your school is the winner; if you show us how teachers, students, and parents are working together to prepare your kids for college and a career; if you show us how you’re giving back to your community and our country – I’ll congratulate you in person by speaking at your commencement.

- From President Obama’s back-to-school address delivered at Julia R.Masterman Magnet School in Philadelphia.

In President Obama’s recent address to Philadelphia middle and high school students, he stressed a few key components that, if you weren’t paying attention, could serve as carbon copies to Higher Achievement’s mission, values and goals. Obama passionately spoke to the importance of an overall culture of excellence for student achievement, where working hard, stepping up to challenge, and being a leader is essential. He also spoke to what it means to really be successful, and how strong citizenry is a characteristic of success. As a Higher Achievement alumna and current staff member, I, as well as the more than 10,000 Higher Achievement alumni understand the roles that each of these skills can play within the road to success.

What Obama calls a culture of excellence, Higher Achievement affectionately refers to as a culture of high expectation. As a young student, I remember how comfortable I was being in the background. If the teacher didn’t call on me, I wasn’t going out of my way to get his or her attention. However, after joining Higher Achievement, I found myself surrounded by staff who expected more out of us as students; but even better, I was among students who wanted more for themselves and their peers. My entire academic approach was transformed by something as simple as expectation. Once excellence was expected of me, I strived for it.

Of course, striving for excellence doesn’t always lend itself to immediately achieving it and that was another one of the many lessons that Higher Achievement taught me. Now that I had my academic attitude adjusted, it was time to work on my academic work ethic. For example, if I studied considerably hard for a test, spent an extra hour or two going over classroom material, got together with my friends to make sure I had the test concepts and still made a C on the test, that didn’t mean my efforts were in vain. Instead, that was my opportunity to review my efforts, see what I could have done differently, and apply the lessons learned to the next test. This, I learned, was the very essence of working hard.

It wouldn’t be in the spirit of Higher Achievement to stop at setting the expectation and working hard. Here, I also learned to step out side of my comfort zone. Once I mastered what I was great at, it was time to conquer what I was only good, or maybe even bad at. Higher Achievement pushed me aggressively to the next level, but simultaneously made me feel supported. I knew that if I were to misstep, Higher Achievement would be there to catch me before I fell, and put me right back on track.

It is a combination of setting the expectation, working hard and stepping up to challenge, that ultimately builds leaders. Some of the world’s greatest icons are those who think big, step outside of the box, and in turn give back to their communities. Since 1975, Higher Achievement has harvested the inner-leader in inner-city youth across the District. Now, in 2011, I am more than proud to be apart of the expansion efforts that will ultimately cultivate potential in young people, who like me, didn’t even know they had it. President Obama addressed the students of Masterman on what was sure to be a very special day for them; Higher Achievement addresses its scholars everyday about setting high expectations and changing not only academic outcomes, but the world.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Join us in Richmond this Saturday!

The Higher Achievement Richmond staff is pleased to join our neighbors for Richmond Public Schools' Choice Campaign Kickoff in the 6th and 7th Districts on Saturday September 18, 2010. We'll be canvassing the community in support of educational excellence and spreading awareness of the new Higher Achievement Center opening on Richmond's Northside in June 2011. We believe that when an entire community bears the responsibility for educating our youth, our children succeed. We'd love for you to join us!

We're meeting Saturday, 10am, at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, 1000 Mosby Street. To learn more about our upcoming efforts in Richmond or to set up a specific time to meet us on Saturday (or anytime!), email Tyren Franzier at

- Eleanor Rouse
Executive Director, Richmond

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Alumnus Tariq West Reflects

Dear Richard,

I am writing you today to thank you. Thanks to you and Higher Achievement, I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed.

When I was eight years old, a wave of violence swept through my neighborhood. I went to sleep every night to the sound of gunfire.

The National Guard came with their humvees to set up huge banks of floodlights. For a week or more, the lights shone so bright that there was no night.

This was the backdrop of much of my childhood. Drugs and gangs were pervasive; in fact, it’s hard to even describe the sense of hopelessness that governed where I grew up.

I remember as a 10-year-old, a friend from my block asserting with utter confidence that we were never going to get out of the ghetto. “We were born broke and black,” he said, “and we’ll die that way.” Even as a child I understood how tragic a sentiment that was.

I struggled with what it meant to be a promising young person in a place where promise was crushed and squandered. How could I explain my ambitions to peers who had learned not to dream?

My parents were hard working, supportive and expected a lot of me, but their expectations were set against the powerful and destructive atmosphere that we lived in - mediocrity, failure, delinquency were the norms. It could have been all too easy to give up on my future.

Then I found Higher Achievement. It was the beginning of my coming into my own.

I just graduated from Stanford University. The day embodied the hard work and highest hopes of my parents and me. But we could not have done it alone. It was Higher Achievement that challenged and helped me grow at a pivotal point in my life.

Higher Achievement helped me opened doors in my life that I thought I could not have opened on my own. Now I know I can open those doors for myself, because Higher Achievement helped me build confidence, self-awareness and a sense of purpose in the world. Higher Achievement was a safe place for dreams.

Higher Achievement’s academic coaches and mentors helped me move beyond my struggles with mathematics, encouraged me to explore the world through the written word and helped me find my own voice. They believed in me and inspired in me a steadfast belief in my own ability.

Thanks to the skills and support I received at Higher Achievement, my grades improved dramatically. I attended a top-tier high school and studied alongside children who grew up in privileged environments. It was intimidating and alienating at times, but Higher Achievement had given me the tools I needed to succeed.

Now I’m a regular contributor to Higher Achievement and as I make the move back to the DC area I look forward to giving back as a mentor and as a friend of the program. My deepest hope now, and the reason I am writing to you today, is that I want children from all across the country to benefit from Higher Achievement as I did.

There is no question that Higher Achievement can make a difference. I am living proof.

The only question is how many children can be served. Thanks to the mentors and staff at Higher Achievement, I have accomplished things that once I couldn’t imagine. I feel compelled now to do everything I can to afford the same experience to every child who has dreams but lacks the means to achieve them.

Thank you, Richard, for your tireless faith in the promise of young people. Your commitment is inspiring and your vision of empowering youth is extremely necessary. Please let me know how I can help.


Tariq West

P.S. I owe so much to Higher Achievement. The program met me in my neighborhood, among my peers and gave me the tools to achieve my dreams. While other kids hung out on the street, I’d begun the hard work of building my future.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Richard Tagle, CEO, On School Reform and Motivation.......

On September 6, 2010, Robert Samuelson authored, School Reform’s Meager Results. The op-ed identified what Samuelson believes to be the two main reasons that school reform has failed. First, no one has effectively brought to scale a transformative reform approach, and second, students lack motivation.

I agree with the first reason and suggest that we are asking the wrong question about scaling reform. Perhaps reform approach itself is not a “scalable” element. What need to be scaled are practices that have proven to improve student performance. District hiring practices, interactive classrooms, and team-based approaches to professional development have brought positive outcomes not just in schools, but also in other institutions that require system-wide implementation. This country knows how to scale. We have more than doubled the number of people in prison, have more than 8 million children uninsured, and have more than 20 million of people out of jobs. We know how to scale. The real question is whether we have the will to scale those practices that bring about positive change.

On Samuelson’s second point – student motivation – Higher Achievement has been fostering student motivation for over 35 years. Each student in the program devotes more than 650 hours of rigorous academic work in addition to the 900 plus hours they spend in school. By providing solid opportunities to learn, excel and shine, Higher Achievement motivates students to work hard and to be engaged in their learning. Students become motivated when they know people are investing time, energy and resources in them. When we see them as assets and talent and not just assembly line widgets, they respond by proving that they are worth the investment. They rise up to high expectations and meet challenging demands. We have to believe in their promise and potential before we can ask them to exert effort. This “belief” is also something this nation should learn how to scale extremely well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Higher Achievement Centers Coming to Richmond

We have some very exciting news to share – Higher Achievement, in partnership with Richmond Public Schools, will be opening two new achievement centers in Richmond in 2011! Our Richmond team will be led by Eleanor Rouse, who most recently served as National Development Director for Girls For A Change. We’re thrilled to have her on board.

We’ll be sharing more information for scholars, mentors, and community partners in this space soon. In the meantime, if you have questions or want more information, contact Eleanor directly at or 804.921.8211.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Higher Achievement on MSNBC

On Sunday, August 15th, Higher Achievement was featured on MSNBC's Making the Grade, which put national focus on the current state of education. Specifically, Higher Achievement was featured in the "Ending the 'Brain Drain'" segement, which spoke directly to summer learning loss.

Click here to see the complete list of videos.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mentoring Monday - August 16th

Mentoring Monday - August 16th
Make a difference in a child's life

FOX 5 and Higher Achievement are calling on you to be a part of our successful Mentoring Monday campaign.

On Monday, August 16th, 14 Mentoring organizations will be on hand at a phone bank to answer questions from viewers. Call 202-895-3307 between 6 and 10a.m. to learn how to get involved.

You can make a difference in a child's life by lending your time, attention, help with homework, just being there as a friend.

There are many young people in single parent or troubled households, who would benefit.

Click here for more information.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MSNBC to Feature Higher Achievement


NEW YORK—July 28, 2010—MSNBC and Ebony Magazine are partnering up in August to put education issues in the forefront of the nation’s spotlight. Beginning August 9, MSNBC will feature twice-daily segments focusing on a variety of pertinent education issues, including the central challenges facing our public school systems today, the benefits of charter schools versus traditional public schools and how to improve the quality of our school systems on a national level.

The partnership will culminate in a two-hour education special, “Making The Grade,” which will air on MSNBC on Sunday, August 15, beginning at noon ET.
The special will feature Higher Achievement.
Click here to read the entire press release.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Higher Achievement Goes to College!

Click here to read the recent coverage on our recent visit to the University of Maryland, and what our scholars learned about healthy living.

Higher Achievement featured by WAMU and the Baltimore Sun!

In the true spirit of summer learning, local media stations highlight Higher Achievement scholars returning home from their annual college trips.

Click here to read WAMU's article, "Program Exposes Underprivileged Kids To College Life."

And click here to read the Baltimore Sun's article, "City students get taste of college."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Olympics of the Mind Coverage!

Higher Achievement Baltimore hosted their Olympics of the Mind event on Monday, August 2, 2010, at Digital Harbor High School. The event was complete with academic judges, time keepers, score cards, and plenty of academic games to stimulate their 120 scholars.

Click here to see WJZ's coverage of Higher Achievement Baltimore Olympics of the Mind, and be sure to check out the video too!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Higher Achievement Parent a Guest on NPR

Higher Achievement parent, Danni Tucker, was recently featured on NPR's Tell Me More during a segment called, "Summer Vacation or Summer Digression," which speaks to summer learning loss.

Ms. Tucker is a regularly featured guest on Michel Martin's Tell Me More segment, and can be heard every Tuesday morning at 11:15 am discussing various topics that affect parents and their children.

Higher Achievement partner, Ron Fairchild, of the National Summer Learning Association, was also featured in this news segment.

Click here to listen to the show. features Higher Achievement!

Click here to read the article on this year's Olympics of the Mind!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Higher Achievement E-Newsletter, July 2010

Check out Higher Achievement's latest e-newsletter here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The More Time Spent on Learning, The More Students Learn

KIPP should be commended for the academic results they generate by offering extended school days and longer school years for their students. The Mathematica Policy research on 22 KIPP schools across the country showed that regardless of race and class, students learn better when more time is devoted to learning and individual attention is given to students. Despite KIPP’s reality, the truth is that not all schools are structured or governed like KIPP.

Many traditional public schools are constrained by factors that limit their capacity and ability to provide a longer school day. This is where community-based programs, like Higher Achievement come into play. Public schools can and should tap into high quality and rigorous community programs that can become their extended learning time partners and help generate the academic results that schools, students, families and the community want. The culture of high expectations, excellence and learning should not just be within the school’s purview; it should be a culture to which every community institution contributes. Young people should experience academic rigor and a culture of high expectation not only in their schools from 8 am to 3 pm, but in their after-school programs, summer programs, museums, libraries, and ultimately in their homes.

Click here to see the Post article on KIPP.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good News from DCPS!

As you may have heard, a lot of good news is being generated from the District of Columbia Public School system and the Public Charter School Board, regarding the academic gains among the city’s high school students. While the upward trend in test scores is due to a myriad of strategies, we at Higher Achievement believe one of those strategies is better prepared middle-school students and more engaged families. With strong supports in middle-school, and placement in top high schools, we work to ensure that all of our children will be career and college ready.

In order for this upward trajectory of success to continue, it is imperative that the community rally behind DCPS and public charter schools. When success is attained, it is far too easy to become complacent. The latest test scores should be only a small glimpse into what is possible. Higher Achievement offers opportunities for community members, funders and future teachers to engage in this movement. By mentoring a child through middle-school, investing in our family and outreach services, and working as a Summer Teacher in an urban district, this glimpse of possibility turns into a sea of opportunity: opportunities to attend top high schools and achieve the academic success we are just starting to see; opportunities to attend college; opportunities to be successful in school – and in life.

DC Leaders Join Higher Achievement in Celebration of the Launch of the New Ward 8 Achievement Center

Yesterday, Higher Achievement celebrated the launch of its new Ward 8 Achievement Center with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. In addition to Higher Achievement’s first class of Ward 8 scholars and their families, community supporters, key program partners, funders, and several DC officials filled Savoy Elementary School’s gymnasium to show their support.

Guest speakers included Council Chairman Vincent Gray, Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, and Alison Starling of WJLA. Additional speakers were Dr. Shawn Bender (Assistant Principal of Savoy), Jacque Patterson (Federal City Council and Ward 8 Democrats), Peggy O’Brien (Chief of Family and Public Engagement, DCPS) and Sarah Latterner (Executive Office of the Mayor).

The guest speakers collectively spoke to the promise of the Ward 8 community, and how excited they are to see Higher Achievement expand its boundaries in its flagship city. Chairman Gray spoke to the success that Higher Achievement has already seen east of the river at the Ward 7 Achievement Center, while Alison Starling marveled at how good it felt to shed positive light in the news realm.

Dominique Jones, an alumna of Higher Achievement, confidently took the podium and admitted that she was once afraid to show her academic savvy. “With Higher Achievement, I learned that being smart was ok. In fact, it was praised.” Moments before an explosion of applause, Dominique asserted that Ward 8’s new class of scholars were “catalysts for much needed change,” and that she, along with everyone else in the gymnasium, expected great things from the scholars adorned in their bright green Higher Achievement t-shirts.

The ceremony’s highlight was the energetic scholar performances led Higher Achievement staff. Ward 8 Center Director and 1982 Higher Achievement graduate Durya Durham spoke about her vision for the new Achievement Center, and promised that she was preparing scholars to make great academic gains.

Additional Higher Achievement supporters represented the following organizations: DC US Attorney’s Office, US Navy, DCPS, CYITC, Banyan Tree Foundation, Cafritz Foundation, Horning Family Fund, CityBridge Foundation, THE ARC, Local Initiatives Support Coalition and Freddie Mac.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Higher Achievement Baltimore a 2010 Ravens Plan In Motion Grant Recipient!

Baltimore Ravens Provide Nearly $100,000 in Grants to 20 Local Nonprofits Through
2010 Plan in Motion Project

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) has awarded nearly $100,000 in grants to 20 nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore metropolitan area. In its fourth year, the Ravens’ Plan in Motion project once again provided grants of up to $5,000 for initiating and/or growing programs or projects that promote physical fitness and nutritional education among youth.

The 2010 Plan in Motion grant funding will support a variety of programs, such as Tai Chi classes, Squash clubs, cooking instruction and after school intramurals, all working to encourage healthy youth activities. Projects that received grants for 2010 include: Funding of classes through Girls on the Run of Greater Chesapeake, which combined training for a 5K with self-esteem uplifting workouts; Continued support of the Patterson Area Elementary Soccer League for three Baltimore schools, which will double in size from 2009; Providing the Baltimore County Police Athletic League’s mountain biking program with funds to purchase new equipment for scheduled biking trips; Supporting the Baltimore Fitness Academy, which educates and mentors urban youth to become employed as certified fitness professionals and ambassadors of health in Baltimore; and, Providing scholarships for students to attend Camp Soveya, a summer program that addresses female childhood obesity in the Jewish community.

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation is dedicated to improving and facilitating the healthy development of youth in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland. The Plan in Motion project is designed to encourage healthy youth activities and promote the importance of nutrition and exercise for children. Across the 20 nonprofit organizations, close to 8,000 Baltimore-area youth will benefit from the RACTF grants in the coming year.

Other 2010 Ravens Plan in Motion Grant Recipients include:

Baltimore County PAL (Dundalk and Lansdowne)
Baltimore Fitness Academy
Baltimore Squash Wise
Boys and Girls Club of Harford County
Bridges at St. Paul’s School
Camp Fire USA Baltimore
Camp Soveya
Child First Authority
Dundalk High School
Girls on the Run of Greater Chesapeake
Monte Sanders FIT FAMILIES
Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital
Patterson Public Charter School
Playworks Baltimore
ReWired for Change
Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy
SEED School of Maryland
The Maryland School for the Blind
Wolfe Street Academy, under Baltimore Curriculum Project

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Higher Achievement CEO Serves as Guest Speaker for the Aspen Institute!

Richard Tagle, Higher Achievement's CEO, will be participating as a guest speaker in the Aspen Institute's 2010 Ideas Festival from July 5th-11th.

Entering its sixth year, the Aspen Ideas Festival is a conversation-packed exploration of some of the most important ideas and pressing issues we face. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic magazine, the Festival strives to highlight the ideas of experts at the forefront of their fields and of leaders whose actions are changing the world.

From early in the morning until late at night, inspiring and provocative writers, public officials, artists, scientists, business executives, scholars, economists, foreign policy specialists, entrepreneurs, and leaders of all kinds — drawn from myriad fields, from across the country and from around the world — will gather to address audiences of people who want to be challenged and who are interested in learning about the world and the ideas that are shaping it.

Check out more on the festival, and the featured speakers.

Higher Achievement CEO Joins Board of Local Non-profit

Higher Achievement CEO Richard Tagle was voted into the Nonprofit Roundtable for Greater Washington's board of directors to serve a 3-year term beginning this fall.

The Nonprofit Roundtable works to build the strength, visibility, and influence of the nonprofit community in order to create a more just and caring community in Greater Washington. Their membersinclude advocacy organizations, direct service providers, grantmakers, and corporate partners all working together to solve regional problems.

"I am excited to have this opportunity," Richard shared recently. "This brings us first-hand knowledge and access to issues both nonprofit and philanthopic entities are talking and concerned about, and also provides a great platform to highlight Higher Achievement's work to many colleagues, funders and champions."

To learn more about the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, click here.

Baltimore Scholar Testifies Before Congress!

June 29, 2010 - Higher Achievement scholar, Ariea Hughes testified in support of the Congressional reauthorization of the summer breakfast and lunch program. Ariea delivered an impressive testimony and stole the show! Speaking in front of Senator Brown from Ohio, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the director of Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Ariea participated on a panel with two other people and was the only young person to speak.

See below to read a portion of Ariea's testimony:

"The summer is a very important time because when it’s time for us to go to the next grade, we’ll be ahead. Higher Achievement and the Summer Food Program are important because they help me reach my goal and my goal is to get and finish my education. By providing me with breakfast and lunch each day, I get balanced meals that help me focus. By eating healthy foods, we do better in school. Each day we get a complete meal, which includes meat, vegetables, fruit, and a snack. The food is very nutritious and it feeds our brains and gives us energy. Higher Achievement also teaches us nutrition tips of the day about why we should eat healthy. I have learned a lot from these tips and feel good about myself for eating healthy foods."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Higher Achievement to Serve More Students East of the River!

Higher Achievement announced today that it will open a new Achievement Center in Ward 8 on June 28. The center, located at Savoy Elementary School, will be the organization’s sixth achievement center; the second of which established to serve students east of the river. To celebrate this new Center, Higher Achievement will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 20th, at the school from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Invited guests include Mayor Adrian Fenty, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray and Councilmember Yvette Alexander; news personality Alison Starling is scheduled to attend.

“The opportunity to ensure that young people have a fair chance to achieve academic success is important to Higher Achievement,” said Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Executive Director of Higher Achievement DC Metro. “We are excited to be able to bring Higher Achievement to the Ward 8 community, and we are grateful for the enthusiastic support we have received from city and educational leaders. We look forward to the success of our Ward 8 scholars.”

In 2009, Higher Achievement graduates saw a remarkable increase in their GPAs over their time in the program, from an average 2.5 to 3.1 by graduation. 95% of 2010 graduating scholars were placed in top high schools including Gonzaga, Banneker Academic High School, School Without Walls, and McKinley Tech.

Higher Achievement is a part of another AUDACIOUS IDEA!

Audacious Ideas is a blog created to stimulate ideas and discussion about solutions to difficult problems in Baltimore. Each week, they ask individuals to think candidly and audaciously about what can be done to promote opportunity, achievement, health, and prosperity in our city.

Check out Higher Achievement's in this link!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Wallace Foundation Partners with Higher Achievement in Support of Summer and Extended Learning

Washington, DC June 22, 2010 – Higher Achievement announced today that the Wallace Foundation has made a landmark investment of $3 million in Higher Achievement over the next three years. Higher Achievement, one of only four service providers from across the country selected, is a part of the foundation’s initiative to provide disadvantaged urban students with more time for high-quality learning – both through improved summer learning opportunities, and through extending the school day and school year.

The foundation has joined with an initial group of partners to help build understanding and develop knowledge that districts, cities and states can use to take action. In addition to Higher Achievement, those partners include: The National Summer Learning Association, The National Center on Time and Learning, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), Horizons National, RAND, MDRC, and Child Trends.

“The support that we are receiving from the Wallace Foundation is revolutionary,” said Richard Tagle, Higher Achievement CEO. “We are honored to be part of a select group of organizations that are deemed to be doing high quality work as leaders in innovation and proven practices in the field. This grant will allow us to expand our capacity to serve more scholars, evaluate our summer academy, and improve the quality of our program.”

Wallace’s initiative comes amid increased interest and concern about what approaches are most effective in boosting student achievement:

In the area of summer learning, research shows that over the summer break common in most school districts, all children – but especially poor children – lose some of what they have learned during the school year. Despite this evidence of the problem, less is known about what measures might be effective to solve it, and what state and district policies would be needed to support those measures. Evaluations demonstrate that effective summer learning programs can reduce summer learning loss, but there are few instances of those programs being successfully applied across a district – something Wallace hopes to test with one or more district partners.

In the area of extended learning time, the evidence is unclear about what it takes for more time added to the school day, week or year to make a difference in students’ academic achievement. However, studies of extended learning time have shown positive effects on students’ school attendance, engagement and social and emotional development.

With an initial investment of $9 million, Wallace is focusing on three main strategies: 1) building awareness and understanding of the value of adding more time for high-quality learning, 2) supporting national organizations that do a good job of educating children in now-underutilized hours in order to help those groups reach more children, and 3) working with selected school districts, to test how programs to provide more high-quality learning time might be applied widely in a district to help disadvantaged children.

With the generous support from Wallace, Higher Achievement will be able to open a new affiliate in Richmond, Virginia, improve the operations of our national office, DC Metro affiliate and Baltimore affiliate, evaluate the effectiveness of its programs, and share best practices with the field.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lynsey Wood Jeffries as 1 of 12 NGen Fellows!

Higher Achievement Executive Director Lynsey Wood Jeffries joins Independent Sector’s 2010 American Express NGen fellows! This selective program is part of IS’s NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now initiative, which helps build the next generation of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. Jeffries is one of 12 under-40 fellows.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to learn with this top-notch group of NGen Fellows,” Jeffries shared. “I’m thankful for the significant growth I’ve experienced in the past 5 years with Higher Achievement. Now, I look forward to continuing the cycle, mentoring the next generation of young leaders to become future Executive Directors.”

Click here to learn more about Independent Sector’s NGen initiative, and the professionals who make up this year’s class.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Higher Achievement Baltimore Gets Ready for Love.....

Higher Achievement Baltimore Presents, Love Out Loud!, the first annual Literary Love Poetry Performance

The event will feature the original work of ten scholar poets who claimed first place titles in Higher Achievement’s local poetry contests earlier this month. Patrice Harris, Fox 45 anchor, will be the guest speaker at this event.

You want to know what inspires our scholars to share their most initmate thoughts? Click here and get some inspiration of your own.

Event Details:

Who: Higher Achievement scholar poets
What: First Annual Literary Love Poetry Performance: Love Out Loud!
When: Thursday, May 20, 2010
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Where: Morgan State University Student Center Theater
1700 East Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, MD 21251
We hope to see you there!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The First Lady Teams Up With Higher Achievement in a Day of Service

Friday, April 30, 2009: First Lady Michelle Obama and Congressional spouses teamed up with Higher Achievement and the Sitar Arts Center for a service event yesterday at the Marie Reed Learning Center in the Adams Morgan community of northwest Washington, DC. The group painted a mural and planted a butterfly garden at the Center to help make the space more visually engaging and vibrant for the children and members of the community who make use of the Center’s programs and facilities.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities helped design the service project in collaboration with two winners of the Committee’s 2009 Coming Up Taller Award – Higher Achievement, a rigorous after-school and summer academic program that culminates into high school placement, and the Sitar Arts Center, an after-school visual and performing arts center in Adams Morgan providing a range of arts training to children and youth by professional artists.

Along with several other Higher Achievement staff members and scholar representatives, Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Executive Director of Higher Achievement DC Metro, was proud to participate in the day of service. “It was an honor to be in partnership with Sitar and the First Lady in this community service opportunity. Additionally, to see our scholars casually and confidently talking with the First Lady about Higher Achievement’s mentors and telling the Congressional spouses about their dreams to be architects and elementary school teachers was priceless.”

Community service is an important component of the Higher Achievement curriculum. Past service projects have included a trip to New Orleans to assist with the aftermath of Katrina, and participation in local food drives with the Capital Area Food Bank.

See the links below for more coverage on this event.

Washington Post

Michelle Obama Watch

Michelle Obama Blog

Huffington Post

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Higher Achievement Testifies Before the Senate!

Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Executive Director of Higher Achievement DC Metro, will be testifying before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on the importance of meeting the needs of the whole student. She will speak specifically to Higher Achievement's model, alignment with school standards, summer and after-school instruction, and measurements of effectiveness.

Click here to find out more information and see live footage. Lynsey's testimony begins at the 46:30 mark.

About the HELP Committee

The committee is led by Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Mike Enzi. Under their leadership, the Committee is composed of three subcommittees, which have a broad jurisdiction over our country's health care, education, employment and retirement policies

Monday, April 12, 2010

Higher Achievement E-newsletter: April 2010

The April 2010 edition of Higher Achievement's e-newsletter is ready for your review! Click here to check it out.

Higher Achievement Featured in the Washington Business Journal

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Cost of Quality? Priceless.

I get excited when I talk about Higher Achievement. I often need to control myself and organize my thoughts as there are lots of ways I can talk about the work we do. I can talk about our rigorous curriculum, our culture of high expectations and hard work, our data-driven approach, our outcomes-based model, the professional development support we provide to staff, or the long term impact we see among Higher Achievement alumni.

But one question always stumps me: why do we cost so much?

So much in comparison to what? We spend between $4500 and $4800 a year per scholar to provide them with a full range of academic supports during the school year and in the summer. We take them on college trips, high school trips, provide them with learning mentors, and expand the opportunities for them to be placed in high schools that get them on track to college. We give them the opportunity to maximize their potential. Is that worth $4800? Broken down on a monthly basis, we provide these supports for $400 a month -- or $100 a week, or down to $7.80 an hour.

It seems to me a narrow measuring stick for effectiveness and efficiency when cost is considered by itself. In that same vein, many often look at overhead and general administrative rates to measure “efficiency” as if non-profit organizations could fully function with minimum back end support.

I often respond to the cost question with a short response: $4800; which is then followed by a long soliloquy on costs versus investments. We often look at dollars used for children’s issues as costs -- not investments in the kind of society we want to build in the future. As a society, we try to minimize spending now on things that we know children need to become productive, responsible and contributing adults: nutritious food, good shelters, solid education, safe communities, physical education, art appreciation, and the list goes on and on.

During a four-year stay at Higher Achievement, we would have invested almost $20,000 in a young person who will eventually go to college, earn a degree, get a job, raise a family and change the world. To me, it’s a very cheap price to pay for a society I want to live and grow old in.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

CEO, Richard Tagle Reflects.......

At Higher Achievement, funders, advocates and other champions often visit our Achievement Centers to see our program in action. These tours provide a glimpse of the rigor and high expectations all scholars experience every day and night at center.

During one particular tour, a communications expert had a chance to witness Community Meeting and see how scholars and mentors alike interact, speak out, share opinions and challenge each other’s views. After Community Meeting, he met with a small group of scholars for a roundtable discussion.

He asked as simple question: Why do you attend a program like Higher Achievement?

The responses varied from “I want to be challenged,” to “My friends come here.” One scholar claimed that, at first, it was her mom who told her to join, but now, after two years of being in the program, she could not imagine being any where else.

The guest asked another question: Wouldn’t you rather do something fun instead of math or reading?

The scholars looked at each other, smiled and were unanimous in their response; learning is fun. “At Higher Achievement, math and reading are not subjects that you sit down to learn. We are always learning new things, but the way we learn them is fun. We have competitions like Spelling Bee, and Olympics of the Mind; .it is not boring.”

I was smiling until one scholar said, “Well, sometimes it’s boring; sorry, Mr. Richard. But it’s better than just being at home watching TV all night and not doing something productive.”

Spoken like a true ten year old scholar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Higher Achievement Named "Top 10 School" by Hopkins' CTY

Higher Achievement was recently named a Top School in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Talent Search for 2009.

The annual CTY Talent Search reflects upon the school's academic quality, student abilities, and teacher talent. It also reflects upon the school leadership that encourages students to seek out educational challenges beyond traditional school walls.

Higher Achievement is proud to be recognized by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and will work to ensure that we continue to serve our scholars to the best of our abilities.

Click here to see the list and find out more information.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Test Scores Up in DC!

Click here to read the Washington Post's coverage of this good news.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Higher Achievement Scholars on Confidence

Every chance we get, we at Higher Achievement talk about the wonderful changes that we’ve seen in our scholars. For a change, we’ve decided to let you hear about those changes straight from the scholars themselves:

“I feel that Higher Achievement has built up my confidence. When I first jointed, I felt like I wasn’t going to meet anybody. Ever since I joined Higher Achievement, I have good self confidence. I’m not afraid to speak to a crowd. It has also helped my social life. The confidence that I have now cannot be compared at all to the confidence that I had 3 years ago. I love being the leader of my classes. I am the one that is not afraid to speak what’s on my mind. I would have to say that if I never came to Higher Achievement, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.”

- Reynaldo L., 8th grade scholar

“Higher Achievement helped me with my confidence by showing me that being smart wasn’t something to hide, but something to be proud of. They also helped me with public speaking, by encouraging me to participate in different events like the Literary Love Poetry Competition, Spelling Bee and the Ambassador Competition. Higher Achievement helped me gain two really important qualities, like public speaking and people skills, neither of which I had before starting the program.”

- Greglena S., 8th grade scholar

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baltimore's Spelling Bee a Huge S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

This month, Higher Achievement Baltimore hosted its Inaugural Spelling Bee. Over 30 scholars participated, practicing each day so they could tackle words such as “proximity,” “blatant,” and “benign.”

Click here to see the video of scholars preparing for the Spelling Bee.

Parents, mentors, principals, teachers, and our esteemed judges packed the house to cheer on the scholars and celebrate the importance of academic competition! After rounds of intense competition, 3 scholars per Center emerged as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place champions!

We are proud of all of our scholars for their effort, sportsmanship, and demonstration of Higher Achievement’s culture principles: Excellence, Respect, and Spirit. We look forward to seeing the scholars perform again at our upcoming Love Poetry Performance in May!

Special thanks to our judges: City Councilwoman Conaway, Bea Scott, Karan McClimans, Kristie McManus, Rosalinda Fleming, and Ronald Triplet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Higher Achievement Featured in Harvard OST Study!

Click here to read the overview and download the study in its entirety.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mayer Brown Hosts Mock Trial for Higher Achievement Scholars

Twenty DC scholars participated in a career day and mock trial at Mayer Brown on Monday, and it was highlighted in BISNOW, a media company.

Click here to see the feature. Scroll down to the story entitled, "Your Replacements."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Higher Achievement Scholar Testifies Before the Maryland Senate

Higher Achievement scholar Ta’Shawn Miles has done it again!

(Ta'Shawn is photographed above with Senator Catherine Pugh.)

This time, Ta'Shawn had the opportunity to testify before the Maryland Senate in favor of Senate Bill 580, an After School and Summer Learning Activity fund. SB580/HB1197 “Maryland Afterschool and Summer Learning Activity Program – Income Tax Checkoff,” establishes the “Maryland After-School and Summer Learning Activity Fund” which is funded through a voluntary donation by taxpayers via a check-off on the Maryland State income tax return.

You can read an excerpt of Ta'Shawn's remarks below:

"Our mentors help us to feel confident in what we have learned in school and help to teach us more. They don’t only teach us educational lessons, but they teach us skills such as how to deal with conflict, right from wrong and how to work with others in a team.

Mentors are great because they are like family that knows how to tutor you. It feels good to have adult friends that I know want the best for me and will help me to get the best.

I would like to become a mentor as soon as I am able to so that I can help children through the education and life experiences that I have and will gain.
I am thankful to Higher Achievement for giving me these opportunities. I think every child should have an after school and summer program like Higher Achievement.
Thank you."

Be Spellbound by Higher Achievement Baltimore’s First Annual Spelling Bee!

Higher Achievement Baltimore will be hosting their first annual Spelling Bee, joined by Council Member Belinda Conaway, who will assist the organization in facilitating their very first signature event. The Spelling Bee will feature the spelling talents of middle school students from Higher Achievement’s West Baltimore Achievement Center, and is an annual celebration of the students’ hard work and academic excellence. The Spelling Bee will be held on Tuesday, March 2, at 6:00 pm at Dr. Nathan A. Pitts Ashburton Elementary/ Middle School, which will be followed by an Award Ceremony.

Event Details:
Who: Higher Achievement Scholars
What: First Annual Spelling Bee (with Council Member Belinda Conway)
When: Tuesday, March 2nd
6:00 pm
Where: Dr. Nathan A. Pitts Ashburton Elementary/ Middle School
3935 Hilton Road Baltimore, MD 21215

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Higher Achievement Spotlighted by Baltimore's Education Channel 77

Click here to check it out! Higher Achievement's coverage begins a little after the 12 minute mark, and ends shortly after the 15 minute mark.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Higher Achievement Scholar TaShawn Miles Featured by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore

Audacious Ideas is a blog created to stimulate ideas and discussion about solutions to difficult problems in Baltimore. Each week, they ask individuals to think candidly and audaciously about what can be done to promote opportunity, achievement, health and prosperity in our city.

This week, Higher Achievement's own Ta’Shawn Miles, talks to the importance of having mentors in his life, and his meeting President Obama. To read his audacious idea click here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Literary Love Poetry Performance: A Huge Success

On February 17, 2010, approximately 250 supporters gathered in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre, for the 5th annual Literary Love Poetry Performance. The event celebrated 8 of Higher Achievement’s 450 scholars. The Literary Love Poetry Performance is the climax to one of Higher Achievement’s signature Center events - the Literary Love Poem Competition - that highlights the poetic talents of middle school students, and their ability to combine their literary knowledge with personal creativity.

The event’s audience consisted of family members, mentors, funders, general supporters and press. The audience was moved by the poet deliveries and the depth at which middle schoolers could reflect on love. Scholar emcee Taylor Kelly from the Ward 1 Achievement Center put it best when she said, “It’s ALL OVER this world! It’s in this country, in the towns we live in, in our homes, our schools, in this program, and in this room RIGHT NOW!.”

The evening’s featured poets delivered inspiring poetry that focused on everything from the love of one’s brother, to the undying love of one’s culture. The featured scholars represented Wards 1, 4, 6 and 7 in the DC Metro area.

The featured poets are listed below:

(Ward 1 Scholars)
Elexia Alleyne
Josanna Dowtin

(Ward 4 Scholars)
Jelani White and James Butler
Chioma Aneke

(Ward 6 Scholars)
Jerome Parks
Noelle Edwards

(Ward 7 Scholars)
Timani Richardson
Greglena Sanders

Higher Achievement Alumna Featured by the National Campaign for Summer Learning

Higher Achievement alumna, Zenniah Davis, was recently featured by the National Campaign for Summer Learning. Last summmer, Higher Achievement submitted entries from both mentors and scholars that told our story. Click here to check out Zenniah's story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaching Algebra Before 9th Grade

Higher Achievement came across some interesting findings on the efforts to teach all students algebra by 9th grade. One important point that a commenter made is that we can and should teach algebraic thinking and reasoning early on, if not the actual algebra; this is reflected in both Higher Achievement standards and in the Higher Achievement curriculum. Check out the article in Education Week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Higher Achievement Featured in the Nonprofit Quarterly!

Higher Achievement CEO, Richard Tagle and Chief of Programs, Rachel Gwaltney were recently featured in the Nonprofit Quarterly, addressing the state of philanthropy under the Obama administration. Just click on the images below to read the article.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Higher Achievement Mentor Featured by Local University

Higher Achievement mentor Steve Fittery is featured by American University for the great work he is doing with his Higher Achievement scholars.

Click here to see the video!

Higher Achievement Alumni Accompanies Mrs. Obama!

Janell Holloway, Higher Achievement Alumna, sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during the recent State of the Union Address.

D.C. native Janell Holloway, a Higher Achievement scholar, attended Banneker Academic High School and interned with the White House Domestic Policy Council during the summer of 2009. Janell is now a freshman at Harvard.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Memoirs of a Mentor - Shared by Sarah Pitcock, of Higher Achievement Baltimore

I have mentioned a few times my love for mentoring at Higher Achievement and for my mentees. They have really brought so much joy into my life in such a short time. I am very blessed to spend time each week with Ta’Shawn Miles, a sixth grader at Collington Square with hopes and dreams that far exceed the small radius of East Baltimore he knows.

Since the first day I met him, Ta’Shawn has been talking about President Barack Obama (he always calls him by his full title). Seeing an African American man become President has truly changed Ta’Shawn’s concept of what he can do with his life. He talks about him ALL the time!

When I went to mentoring on Tuesday, the Center Director told me that Ta’Shawn’s mom had picked him up early that day to go buy him a suit because he was going to the White House to represent Higher Achievement and United Way for a National Mentoring Month event the next day. I nearly fell over, and I’ve had chills ever since just thinking about what the experience would be like for him.

I wasn’t sure if the President would actually be there or if Ta’Shawn would have any contact with him, but I got the full update this morning and the picture below says it all. Ta’Shawn is front row, second from left:

I am just bursting with pride today and wanted to share. Here is Ta’Shawn’s official quote about the experience, for historical record: “It was so exciting. I never thought a day in my life I’d get to meet the first Black President of the United States. It was an honor for me to walk into the White House, because so many people will never have that experience.”

You can watch the video of the President’s speech here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remembering Who We Serve

Too often, not-for-profit organizations get so caught up in their day-to-day operations that they can forget what our hard work brings not just to the organization but also to the kids and families they serve. At Higher Achievement, I once described the business we are in as the creation of “hope.” We bring hope and opportunity to families who experience first-hand what it is like to move about amidst dysfunction and chaos in their community and in their schools. We provide their children with a broader perspective of what the world can offer them and that they do not have to settle for their current situations. Our rigorous curriculum, our mentors, field trips, competitions, and other activities are geared towards making them shine, confident, and excel. We cannot lose sight of any of that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Higher Achievement Featured by the LCCR

Check out the video coverage that the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund recently posted about Higher Achievement. This video was created as a part of the Realize the Dream Campaign. Click here to see the video now!