As a New Year swings into gear, many of us naturally focus on goals and resolutions for the 12 months ahead. Here at The Academy Project, we had already set our sights on 2016 being the year we launch our solution for the first time. But 2016 always felt some time away…. and now here it is!
To say we’re excited about the path ahead, and the impact we are confident we can have, is an understatement. But naturally our ambitious goal of being “live” for the new school year in September brings with it a whole list of milestones that need to be reached, a heap of tasks that need to be completed and a mountain range of hills that are yet to be climbed. And that can be a little overwhelming.
But we’re determined that this is one resolution we are going to keep.
When we feel the pressure mounting, we remember those we are trying to help. For many of the 21,000 children currently in foster care in Los Angeles, when they think of the year ahead, it is filled with uncertainty, dread and sadness. Many have no idea whether they will be reunited with their parents or will remain in the system. A large proportion do not have family placements or are constantly anxious for their next move. Many are already severely behind at school and can anticipate changing schools several times more before the school year is out. Many feel alone, like they’ve done something to deserve this. And all too many are starting to lose hope; are resolute that this is the way it will always go for them.
We’re determined to change this. And we know for certain, from the support we found in 2015, that many of you are too.
That’s why we’re asking for your help with finding our Partner School….
We know that there are lots of school’s out there in LA trying to do the best they can by foster youth. We also know challenges mount to make it hard to make a material difference during the (often limited) time these children are in their classrooms.
We’ve had many meetings with school boards, schools and educators, and have made good progress in building support. But we’re mindful the clock is ticking and want to make sure we leave no stone unturned in the search for the ideal Partner School. That's why we'd be grateful if you lent a hand!
If you know of a School or a Principal that could be a good fit, please feel free to forward this Blog onto them. Below are more details on our plans and proposals to help bring it to life for them.
Alternatively, don't hesitate to get in touch with us and share your thoughts. We'd love to hear from you!
We’re so very grateful for the support, and for your help in making sure this time next year this is one resolution we know we will have kept.
Wishing you all a very successful 2016!
The Academy Project Team
THE WHISTLE-STOP GUIDE TO THE ACADEMY PROJECT
Who we will help
Our proposed solution is designed to help those foster children that are at most risk of failing to achieve a high school diploma. We know there are many foster youth out there that are capable, determined and on a path to succeed despite the bad hand they were dealt early on in life. We of course wish them well, but these aren’t the kids we’re targeting; it’s the ones that will soon fall through the cracks, the ones that typical programs are too late to help that we want to enrol in The Academy.
In all likelihood, our students will:
Have been in the system for some time
Be staying in a group home or will be struggling to retain a family placement
Already be testing behind on expected performance standards for grade 6
Have moved schools several times already
Have significant remedial requirements and / or behavioural issues.
Find out more about the reality for many of these children here.
What The Academy Project will provide
We don’t profess to have all the answers. But we do know that a new approach is needed as the current one isn’t working for many foster youth in LA. Our intent is to trial the best solution we have been able to design with expert input, and then to quickly learn and enhance it from there.
Our solution would offer students:
A guaranteed, consistent school place from 7th grade through to 12th grade, no matter what unfolds outside of school
A safe, supportive and reliable environment in which to learn
A team made up of consistent, caring and empathetic adults, that they can learn to count on
A robust curriculum, focused on developing core skills first and foremost
An opportunity to build relationships with peers with similar life experiences
A tailored, holistic plan, designed to accommodate individual needs, commitments and interests both in and outside of school
In-school therapeutic services, provided in partnership with A Home Within
Transport to and from school
An extended school day and school year, filled with extra-curricular activities and new experiences, helping to uncover new talents and interests that would otherwise go undiscovered
Support and guidance so they can dream and prepare for their own personal vision of their future.
Find out more about how we work here.
What we’re looking for in a Partner School
We’re hoping to find a reputable Partner that is interested in trialling our solution, and ideally developing it together. In reality, the School could just play host - we’re ready to do all the hard leg work and would ideally like to offer our in-school solution as part of an existing school’s infrastructure, rather than operate as our own entity and compete for students in the same vicinity. But if we found a true Partner that wanted to set out on this journey and learn from it together, all the better.
We are very open at this point; our main priority is making a difference to foster youths' lives. Our current thinking is that our Partner School would:
Have a Principal and Leadership Team that would be willing to working in partnership to improve outcomes for foster youth
Be innovative, open to change and eager to try new approaches to help all students achieve their full potential
Already be working to find solutions for foster youth in their school population (for this reason, we have assumed the School may be located in South Los Angeles as in all likelihood, given the stats, they would already be serving a large population of foster youth)
Either be a Span School (grade 7 – 12) or a High School that is willing to allocate one classroom for The Academy Project over the next two years (for grade 7 and 8 students)
Be willing to take all Academy students into the mainstream population for grade 9 (starting 2018) through to grade 12
Provide classroom space on the High School campus
Be committed to high standards and ensuring students leave school ready for college or the world of work.