The number one goal of Innovate! is to help at-risk children succeed in the 21st century. We are fundamentally working to break the cycle of poverty of students in our neighborhood one child at a time. Innovate! begins the summer before third grade and continues to support students through high school graduation.
We work to broaden the horizons of children who rarely see beyond their street corner and to equip them with all of the skills they need to achieve their full potential. At its core, Innovate! includes the following elements:
Once students finish elementary school, Innovate! goes with them. Our Innovate! Alumni program continues to provide academic support, Saturday events, mentoring and enrichment to students in middle and high school.
Innovate! is always free to students. It sets high expectations and provides the holistic support necessary to reach those goals. Importantly, a halo effect is maintained for the program. Children cannot sign up or apply for Innovate! They must be “chosen.” Children and parents are told that admission is based on “standing out” in at least two of three criteria: 1) academic performance, 2) potential, and 3) character of the student. Students of all abilities and their parents routinely ask to join the Innovate! program.
Innovate! is funded completely through private donations and grants. An endowment through the Community Foundation of Greenville provides 60% of program funding each year. Approximately 25% of the current Innovate! budget is provided in-kind by community agencies. The major source of this in-kind funding is Project Host, which provides meals and snacks. The remaining 15% of the budget is raised annually through various grants and donations.
Our starting point was education. All research, and our own experience, told us that education brings options, power and freedom. And, we knew almost instantly the students we wanted to focus on. Our analysis showed that while AJW was a top performing school, we had a clear Achilles heel: African-Americans, especially males, living in poverty underperformed every other student subgroup. We knew that this group had to be the core of any new initiative.
Our next step was research and benchmarking. We wanted to find someone that was already having success with children like ours, hopefully close to home. Our research included the following:
Innovate! tracks performance in four areas and makes adjustments as necessary to assure student growth:
Preliminary 2017 SC Ready Data: Every 3rd grade Innovate! students is performing on grade level Math Benchmark:
– 84% of all Innovate! students achieved growth in Math
– 96% of all Innovate! students achieved growth in Reading
Lynn Mann, email@example.com