Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,700,000)
Elevate USA will reduce high school dropouts among at-risk youth in low-income and under-resourced communities and schools. The goal of the project is to improve the ability of at-risk high school students to complete high school, prepared for a positive future. This will be achieved by providing sub-awards to Elevate affiliates to mentor high school students in their communities. High school dropouts show a striking increase in incarceration, unemployment, victimization, and other adverse results. Mentoring is an effective intervention to address these issues. Research shows that youth with caring, adult relationships demonstrate increased academic motivation, increased social-emotional growth and learning, increased sense of personal responsibility, and reduced engagement in a variety of high-risk behaviors. The target population served by this project is students in urban and rural public schools where high school graduation rates are lowest. Elevate programs will be conducted in New York City, Lowell and Lawrence MA, Orlando, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Denver, Kansas City, Dallas, Savannah GA, Paterson NJ, Birmingham, The Navajo Nation (AZ), Atlanta and Bridgeport CT. Elevate’s mission is to ‘build long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth, equipping them to thrive and contribute to their community.’ Elevate accomplishes this by hiring full-time, salaried mentors who come from similar backgrounds as the youth. These mentors build relationships with mentees through 1) teaching accredited high school classes in the public schools, 2) mentoring in the evenings, weekends, and vacations, 3) conducting adventure activities, and 4) assisting mentees with a plan for college or career after high school. This unique approach successfully builds the caring, adult relationships needed to help youth on the path to graduation and success after high school. As a part of the project, Elevate will provide mentoring to at-risk public high school students in large group, small group, and one-on-one settings to 860 youth in year 1, 860 youth in year 2, and 860 youth in year 3. 85% of those enrolled will complete the one-year program. The aim is for 85% of mentored students to complete the necessary credits to matriculate to the next grade-level academically, leading to high school graduation. In addition, Elevate will enhance and deliver additional mentor training. All data will be collected locally by each affiliate using data acquired from internal tracking records as well as schools. No portion of the grant will be used to conduct research.