The "I Have a Dream" Program (IHAD) originated in 1981 with businessman Eugene Lang's promise to give each sixth-grade student at his alma mater, P.S. 121 in East Harlem, a scholarship for college after they graduated from high school. Upon learning that 75 percent of the students were projected to drop out of school before graduation, Lang organized a program of support services to keep them in school so that they could eventually take advantage of his scholarship. Lang's efforts succeeded: of the 54 original Dreamers who still remain in contact with IHAD, more than 90 percent have their high school diplomas or GED certificates, and 60 percent went on to higher education.
IHAD has since grown to include 160 projects in 57 cities, serving over 10,000 children, or "Dreamers." The program has also become more comprehensive, operating year-round, providing an after-school program, and emphasizing community service. Sponsors adopt entire grades of elementary school children in schools or public housing developments, and commit to providing the Dreamers with academic support, cultural and recreational activities, and individual attention for the 12 to 15 years that they will be in the program.
According to Lang, the secret of his program's success is the sustained personal commitment made by the sponsor, rather than the promise of a scholarship. As the sponsor of the original IHAD class, Lang and a social worker met every week with the students, and Lang spent Saturdays with the children and met their parents and relatives. The children always had access to Lang or the social worker to discuss any problems. When Lang established the "I Have a Dream" Foundation in 1986, he turned down potential sponsors who wanted only to offer money and not to provide the personal mentor commitment. Thousands of sponsors and volunteers have become personally involved in IHAD, including enriching inputs from businesses, community groups and over 200 colleges and universities.
The continued success of IHAD is reflected in many studies of local programs. A study of Dreamer classes in Chicago conducted by the University of Illinois found that 75 percent of Dreamers in the class of 1997 graduated from high school, compared with only 37 percent of students in a control group. Nearly 85 percent of these students enrolled in college the following fall. In Denver, 80 percent of the 1995 class of Dreamers graduated from high school on time, and an additional 7 percent graduated the next year. Two-thirds of these Dreamers went on to college or vocational training. In all, IHAD reports that some 3,000 Dreamers currently attend nearly 400 different colleges and universities across the country.
For two decades the Fulfillment Fund, a privately funded, nonprofit organization, has provided assistance to economically disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles to help them complete middle school and high school and pursue higher education. Through a variety of programs, including the Mentor Program and the College Pathways Project, the Fulfillment Fund now serves over 1,500 students annually. In 1998, the Fulfillment Fund was named the number one mentoring program in the state of California by the California Mentor Initiative.
In the Mentor Program, the Fund identifies students who demonstrate the potential to attend college but are unlikely to do so on their own. These students often come from families in which no other member has attended college. The program matches students with an adult mentor who agrees to meet with the student six to twelve hours per month and talk weekly by phone from the time the student is in eighth grade through high school graduation. Mentors are successful adults who are carefully screened by Fulfillment Fund staff, and attend a two-day training session where experienced mentors and current students help the new mentors learn to bridge cultural differences, understand adolescent development, build communication skills, and understand the program's goals and policies. New mentors also receive instruction about when it is necessary to refer problems to social service agencies. Throughout its duration, Fund case managers closely monitor the relationship. Approximately 450 mentor-student teams are currently in the Mentor Program.
Individualized college preparation plans are developed for each Mentor Program student under the direction of a professional college counselor, and each year the mentor-student pair may attend up to three college site visits that have been arranged by the program. Students also receive a wide variety of college information and take classes to help them prepare for college entrance exams. Additionally, Mentor Program students may participate in the Fund's Drug Education, Community Service and study skills training programs.
The program also requires parental permission and involvement, and over the course of the year the Fund sponsors events for parents and their children, including sessions on financial aid, the college admission process and the transition to college. Most of the program?s oral and written information for parents is available in both English and Spanish.
The Fulfillment Fund is also the largest private donor of scholarships to graduating high school students in the greater Los Angeles area, and provides all graduating students in the Mentor Program with a guaranteed scholarship for up to five years of college or vocational school. However, Fulfillment Fund students are told that the Fund does not give charity, and each student promises over the subsequent twenty years to repay the Fund by serving as a mentor for at least three young people in their communities. The Fulfillment Fund indicates that 86 percent of the students who start the program in the eighth grade finish the five-year program and graduate from high school, compared to only 63.5 percent of their fellow students in the L.A. Unified School District. Over 90 percent of the Fund's high school graduates go on to college, compared to approximately 63 percent of their fellow students.
Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) is a school-community collaboration established in the 1993-1994 school year to improve the instructional quality and school environment for at-risk children in Houston's inner city schools. At the core of this effort is bold, research-based curricular reform to promote high standards in math, reading and language arts. This reform is accompanied by comprehensive services, including parental involvement, classroom instruction, social services, and tutoring, mentoring and counseling, that focus on the whole child from kindergarten through high school. Also, Project GRAD promises all 9th grade students a $1,000 per year college scholarship if they meet basic academic criteria. The scholarship incentive encourages parents and teachers to discuss college as a real objective for students, and it offers students a reason to perform academically. Over the long-term, Project GRAD aims to reform K-12 education so that every kindergarten student is insulated from academic failure, graduates from high school, and pursues higher education.
The project works with whole networks of schools, or "feeder systems," which include elementary through high schools, to help develop a consistent emphasis on high standards for all students throughout the school system. Currently, 24 schools in Houston and over 17,000 Hispanic and African American students are involved with Project GRAD. This massive effort is supported by a partnership of school, corporate, and community-based organizations and foundations, with almost 90 percent of funds coming from the sector and individuals.
In the past three years, the rates of high school graduation and college enrollment have quadrupled in these Houston schools, and student test scores have improved dramatically. Discipline problems have virtually disappeared, and the teen pregnancy rate has dropped by 50 percent. Project GRAD is gaining recognition as one of the largest and most successful efforts of its kind, and it is being used as a model for reform efforts in cities across the country.
The U.S. Navy Personal Excellence Partnership (PEP) Flagship recruits leadership, military, reservist, and civilian Navy personnel, as well as family members, to provide tutoring, mentoring, and technical expertise, and serve as role models to encourage youth to develop to their fullest potential.
Program goals include motivating students to stay in school, expanding community and parent involvement and improving the quality, productivity and effectiveness of public education. The focus of specific programs varies. For example, Adopt-a-School provides tutoring, lectures, field trips and pen pals; Saturday Scholars is a one-on-one tutoring program; and Math/Science Initiative offers personnel with high-tech skills to help teachers and secondary school students increase their math, science, and computer skills.
All PEP programs are managed by naval commands and activities at the local level. Each service command and activity is encouraged to appoint a representative to coordinate with the school, who is responsible for ensuring that volunteers demonstrate Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment. The coordinator also ensures that Navy volunteers have received the proper orientation and training needed to develop effective teaching techniques. The Navy Community Service Program, a small staff in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, provides program guidance, technical assistance, and a newsletter for participants.
PEP collaborates with local commands and public and private sector organizations to form over 1,000 community partnerships nationwide. These partnerships include diverse community teams of young people, non-profit organizations, communities of faith, schools, and businesses. Some of the most common partnerships involve parent-teacher-student associations, Navy League, Kiwanis, and Chambers of Commerce. The program reports that 14,000 volunteers work with nearly 150,000 young people through PEP.
San Antonio PREP was begun in 1979 to promote engineering and science degrees and related careers among middle and high school students. The program is held for eight weeks over the summer at various college and university campuses and includes classroom work, laboratory work, field trips, special activities, mentoring sessions, and seminars. San Antonio PREP attempts to develop students' reasoning and problem solving skills through the study of engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, probability and statistics, and technical writing. Students also practice taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) tests. Instructors include faculty members, Officers of the Navy and Air Force, engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and high school teachers. Students are graded in their classes and must maintain an average of 75 or better throughout the program; their final grade is sent back to their school for possible credit.
Each year approximately 70-80 undergraduate science and engineering majors serve as program assistant mentors with San Antonio PREP. Each campus site recruits mentors, most of whom are Mexican American, and many of whom are former PREP students. Program assistant mentors meet with their students for one hour each day to discuss classes or work on homework or laboratory projects. Mentors also serve as teacher aides and help to make sure students are in the appropriate place at the appropriate time. Mentors are given a choice of groups and are also interviewed to determine appropriate placement. If a match of a program assistant mentor with a group is not successful, mentors may change roles, such as helping with special projects or laboratories. Program staff also includes approximately 60 junior program assistants (high school students who have completed three years of the program and serve as peer tutors). Instructors prepare and conduct classes, work with the mentors to provide guidance and help with preparations for mentoring sessions, and meet with individual students.
Since the program's inception, 7,146 students have attended and completed successfully at least one summer session. On average, 1,200 students enroll in the program each year, and 1,000 to 1,100 complete the summer session with a passing grade. Throughout the program's existence, minorities--including Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians?have constituted 79 percent of the students. Fifty-four percent of the students have been female and 50 percent have been from low-income families. Each summer a follow-up survey of all past PREP students is conducted. About 56 percent of all college-age former PREP students responded to the 1997 survey, and of these, 99.9 percent graduated from high school and 92 percent were either college students or graduates. Eighty percent of college attendees graduated. Fifty-three percent of the college graduates were science or engineering majors.
In 1995, Dr. Katherine St. John joined forces with PENNlincs at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science to create the PENNlincs Math Mentoring Program. The program is designed to help students boost their mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills, explore different ways of using mathematics to solve problems, and promote and sustain their interest in mathematics. With close cooperation from the University of Pennsylvania's Math Department, PENNlincs recruits graduate and undergraduate mentors and matches them with groups of students in three local public junior high schools in Philadelphia. Many of the mentors are mathematics majors, but others come from a variety of other departments and have an interest in math. Additionally, mentors are pursuing a variety of different career paths, including mathematics, teaching, science, engineering, and business.
The program operates within partner schools, and is tailored to meet individual classroom needs. Mentors work in teams, with 3 or 4 mentors traveling to schools together. In two schools, entire classes of 6th and 7th grade students participated in the program once per week as part of their regular schedule. In one high school, students signed up for the program as an elective and attended during their lunch period. Mathematics activities are the major focus of mentoring sessions and most involve hands-on material or concrete situations that pose a mathematical problem or invite a new kind of mathematical thinking. Mentors also host students on visits to the University of Pennsylvania campus, where students visit research labs, tour the campus, see dormitories, and have lunch in the dining halls with their mentors. Mentors are encouraged to discuss the value of studying mathematics and the reasons that they enjoy doing so, as well as the relationship between their preparation in mathematics and other areas and their career goals, and how they feel about being a college student.
The goal of the Berkeley Pledge, established in September 1995, is to preserve the diversity of the campus through stronger partnerships with K-12 schools and districts; statewide recruitment activities; removal of financial barriers to university study; enhancement of Berkeley's undergraduate support programs; and promotion of undergraduates to graduate study and professional careers. The Berkeley Pledge Partners include other UC campuses, K-12 administrators and teachers from the four surrounding school districts, community non-profit agencies, school volunteer placement programs, industry partners, city and government funding agencies, and Berkeley's Interactive University project (a U.S. Department of Commerce-funded project linking UC Berkeley and K-12 schools through the Internet). In the 1998-1999 academic year, the neighboring community colleges and California State University campuses will join the partnership.
Through the pledge, over forty schools with high-minority, low-income populations receive targeted services for teachers, students, and parents, as well as assistance with curriculum enrichment. These programs include one-on-one and group activities for students, as well as in-class support to the teachers. Mentors and tutors serving in this program are UC faculty, staff and students, as well as community volunteers.
There have been significant gains in student mathematical achievement in participating elementary and middle schools, as well as increases in enrollment and performance in college preparatory mathematics and advanced math classes. Future evaluations will measure literacy gains, individual and class grade point averages, standardized test scores, in-house assessments, college prep course enrollments and grade performance in these courses, college applications and enrollments.