Nonprofit’s 8GA program aims to extend learning day for 8th graders to support them through high school and beyond

8ga-programIf a child can succeed in the 8th grade, he or she has a greater chance of graduating high school, attending college and securing a good-paying job. That’s why AT&T is supporting Citizen Schools’ expansion of its national 8th Grade Academy (8GA) program this fall with a $250,000 contribution through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature education initiative.

Launched 20 years ago, Citizen Schools is a national educational nonprofit focused on extending the learning day for high-need middle school students by providing direct instruction and support in key subjects, and project-based apprenticeships taught by volunteers from local businesses.

Citizen Schools’ 8th Grade Academy program (8GA) is a bridge between middle school and high school, providing basic and real-world skills students need to transition successfully to high school and graduate.

An analysis of 8GA outcomes in Boston finds participants are far more likely to attend, stay enrolled and graduate from high school in four years.

Launched in 2008, AT&T Aspire brings AT&T employees, nonprofits and community members together to help equip students with the skills they need to lead the digital, global economy.

“Entering high school is a huge milestone for students and we want to make sure they have the tools and support to succeed,” said Nicole Anderson, Executive Director of Philanthropy at AT&T. “By bringing the 8th Grade Academy to scale we are giving more students the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

Citizen Schools is working with 8th graders in 17 schools in six states across the country: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Texas.

“A successful middle school to high school transition is crucial for students who are at-risk to have a fair chance at graduating and getting into college,” said Steven Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools. “Research suggests that students who successfully complete their freshman year, meeting certain ‘on-track’ criteria, are statistically much more likely to graduate. But students who are unprepared for high school, end up in the wrong high school, or otherwise have a poor transition into high school have a much more difficult time overcoming these challenges and are much more at risk to graduate and attend college.”

AT&T’s funding will support the 8GA program, including expansion as well as program evaluation and future strategy for reinforcing core academic skills, developing character strengths, and fostering positive mentor and peer relationships.

Ninety percent of the students Citizen Schools serves are from low-income families. Research shows children of middle and upper class families have spent 6,000 more hours learning by the time reach 6th grade compared to children born into poverty. This creates an “opportunity gap” that contributes to a growing income-based achievement gap.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura