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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Aim High

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Educational Services, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Literacy, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Our mission at Aim High is to create life-changing opportunities during the summer and beyond. Our community: NURTURES the promise and potential of middle school students from low-income neighborhoods. PREPARES students for high school setting them on the path to college and future success. INSPIRES the next generation of teachers and educational leaders. Our vision is to close the opportunity and achievement gaps in Northern California through our transformational summer learning program. We envision every middle school student having access to joyful summer learning, inspired and innovative teachers, and the support they need to succeed in school and life.

Results: Through high-quality summer enrichment programs, Aim High has touched the lives of thousands of low-income youth in the Bay Area, and continues to employ a diverse group of teachers - 67% of whom are people of color. Aim High's impact is significant: 99% of students say they have an adult or teacher who cares about them 95% of students can imagine themselves as successful college students 79% of students improved their math skills (based on pre- and post-test scores) 87% of students tell us they were challenged at Aim High 90% of students report they are better prepared for the upcoming school year

Target demographics: Low-income Bay Area middle school youth.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 2014: 1,700 students at 15 campuses

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, San Rafael and Tahoe/Truckee, CA

Programs: Our summer program model aims to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for low-income middle school students by offering an engaging, supportive, and tuition-free summer learning program. The Aim High experience fosters critical thinking, instills academic habits, and cultivates a love of learning. Students participate in four rigorous academic classes in the mornings: Math, Science, Humanities and Issues & Choices. Aim High classes have a low student to teacher ratio, allowing for individual attention and a focus on project-based learning. In total, students receive over 60 hours of academic instruction over the course of the five-week program. In the afternoon, students participate in activities such as art, drama, and sports. Students typically participate for three or four summers, and many return to teach in the program. Aim High continually evaluates feedback, assesses results, and shares best practices in order to deliver a high-quality program.

Community Stories

162 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am from San Fransicso and I graduated Aim High after three summers. Aim High has helped me step out of my comfort zone since it is a comfortable place where I know that someone is always there to help me and listen to me. I even returned back to Aim High to become a volunteer, a teaching assistant, and a teaching intern. Whether I was a student or a member of the staff, I was always welcomed with happy faces and people offering to help me to the best of their ability. Thank you Aim High.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm writing as a parent of a child who benefitted greatly from participating in the Aim High program during the summer. It gave her confidence, and also made sure she was better prepared and focused on going to college. Her teachers and friends in the program have made a life long impact. Aim High has also been helpful once she was in high school to identify scholarship opportunities and ongoing learning. The outreach of the staff and teachers is amazing.

David I.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have served on the board of Aim High for two years, and have constantly been amazed with the quality of the organization. The program is rooted in a culture of support and high ambitions, which I've found to be prevalent at all levels of the organization. I've also been very pleased with the organization's efficiency. Dollars go very far with this group, and it couldn't be for a more worthy cause. I couldn't be more enthusiastic about Aim High: great people + great culture + great model + great need + great execution = great results.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Aim High was just two years old, serving about 70 students on the Lick-Wilmerding High School campus, when I arrived as the school's head in the summer of 1988. It has been a great privilege to be involved with this extraordinary program for the past 28 years and to marvel at its growth -- first partnering with San Francisco's Urban School, then with SFUSD and to become an independent non-profit organization in 1998 that now serves over 2,200 students at 18 campuses. Throughout, the "Aim High Magic" has touched thousdands of deserving young people and hundreds of aspiring (and inspiring) teachers. Having witnessed Aim High enriching, indeed shaping, so many lives over the years, it is a pleasure to serve on its board, and my wife and I continue to designate Aim High as our #1 philanthropic beneficiary. Al Adams, Head, Lick-Wilmerding High School 1988-2011

HawkisLanding

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a Board Member, I write this Top-Rated review with pride and commitment. As a mission driven organization that continues to thrive after 30 years of service to the community, Aim High continues to elevate and innovate as the Gold Standard for free summer learning and enrichment!!! This past summer Aim high served 2181 students, provided summer jobs for 524 staff and graduated 509 rising 9th graders.

Previous Stories
1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High promotes, supports and develops academic development, social and emotional intelligence for under-served urban youth, aspiring teachers and educational leaders.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a student I benefitted from the tightknit community and compassionate teachers at Aim High who cared about making a genuine connection with the students, investing in us and our dreams, passions, and untapped abilities. What I loved especially about the program was its philanthropic atmosphere, promoting a communal give-and-take dynamic, where graduates of the program could come back as volunteers and give back to a program that provided so much. I returned to Aim High as a teacher, and got to sit on the other side of the desk with students, embodying the Aim High values, and invest in and watch the growth of so many bright, vivid and dynamic young minds. It was just as enriching and rewarding as my experience as a student. There truly is Aim High Magic to be felt when being part of this program. I wish every student in need could take advantage of this opportunity.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Aim High is an organization that stands out amongst the crowd. As a new board member, I was drawn to serve because Aim High is changing lives for students, teachers and broader communities. In the summer of 2016, we served over 2,200 students and employed over 500 educators across 17 sites in the Bay Area. 500 Aim High students graduated this year and we are proud to have successfully transitioned them from middle school to high school.

As a board member, I see that Aim High is highly efficient and a well-run organization. The passion and leadership of the Aim High staff is evident in everything they do. Whether it’s crafting a stimulating yet fun curriculum for students or ensuring a high return on investment for donors, the staff is thoughtful and purposeful in their decision making. I strongly encourage new donors, teachers, parents, local school districts and students to get involved.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Celebrating 30 years of service to students from lower-income neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area, Aim High is peerless in terms of the impact it has. It serves over 2100 students every summer, graduating over 500 of them to a successful transition to high school. Employing over 500 paid staff each summer, it is one of the largest teacher professional development programs in the Bay Area. By employing graduates of the program as teachers, it encourages the next generation of teachers and leaders, and creates a cycle of improvement in the communities that it serves. More than an "education" non-profit, Aim High truly does provide life changing opportunities during the summer and beyond, for its students, their teachers, and the neighborhoods that the live in.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

Guided by research, Aim High's program was developed to address three critical but often overlooked factors in what it takes to improve educational outcomes for under-resourced students. Specifically, Aim High focuses on summer, middle school, and teacher professional development.

First, summer matters. Research shows that summer learning loss disproportionately negatively impacts students who are less well off. While improvements in school-year education are necessary to improve the outlook for all students, they are not sufficient to close the achievement gap between upper and lower income students. Aim High combats summer learning loss and attempts to narrow this achievement gap through its free academic and enriching summer learning program.

Second, middle school matters. Research shows that success in middle school is a strong predictor of a successful transition to and ultimate graduation from high school. Aim High's multi-year program, offered to students in the summers before their 7th, 8th, and 9th grade years, promotes success in middle school and a successful transition to high school. Aim High hopes to reach middle school students that are statistically at risk for dropping out of high school, support them and set them off on a high school graduation trajectory.

Third, teacher professional development matters. Research shows that more experienced teachers are generally better teachers, and that access to professional development opportunities is strongly tied to how long teachers remain in the profession. Every summer, Aim High provides weeks of training and development opportunities to the over 400 teachers that it employs, and gives those teachers an opportunity to hone new skills during the summer months so that they may be employed during the school year for the benefit of all of their students, not just their Aim High students.

Aim High is a model for targeted intervention to improve the educational outlook for under-resrouced students. It deserves your support and deserves to be replicated.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It is with pride and humble gratitude that I have been a part of the Aim High family for 15 years. I started as a site director in Chinatown. During that summer, we were to celebrate a mile-stone year of my Co-Director, Matt Reno. As I interviewed students, teachers and parents for anecdotes and appreciations about Matt, I'll never forget what Deborah (an intern at the time) told me. She said, "Matt Reno saved my life. I was an Aim High student but got side tracked and wasn't going to return. I was getting into trouble, failing out of school, and disconnecting from my family. Matt came and found me and encouraged me to return. I got back on track and haven't lost site of what's important to me since. He is why I graduated, became a TA and am now a teacher here." This is one of many Aim High stories. All of which are a testament to the incredible families Aim High serves, the fantastic teachers Aim High employs and the tremendous impact Aim High makes while building community. Congratulations on 30 years, Aim High!! We will all benefit from many more!

1 tallboy

Board Member

Rating: 5

My first introduction to Aim High was many years ago when it was operating under the auspices of Lick Wilmerding High School. I watched the program in action one day, and was stunned by the high quality of the program. I am an independent school educator, experienced in evaluating curriculum and the way it is delivered by teachers. What I saw that morning, delivered free to under-served middle school children, equaled, and in some areas, surpassed the very best middle school independent programs. The specific markers I looked for were all there: teachers skillfully calibrating their methods, minute by minute, as the lessons proceeded; intensely engaged students accepting the challenge of stretching themselves so that they were creating the knowledge, finding the answers, instead of being told them. I watched happy kids in a nurturing community realizing that learning is self empowering. So when Aim High became an independent not for profit organization, I became a board member.
Since that time Aim High has grown to serve 2,200 students. And, by diligent, data-based evaluation, both internal and external, has consistently refined and improved the program. Moreover, by intentional, carefully considered strategies, Aim High has managed its growth, not only to serve more children, but also to grow continually stronger as an organization with ambitious plans to expand to 6,000 students by 2020.
Research tells us that middle school is critical. Research also tells us that children in low-income situations fall behind academically in the summer. Thus Aim High's focus is exactly where it should be: an exemplary summer program of academics and youth development for under-served middle school children.

Previous Stories
5

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with a great many non profit organizations, and I can say with no reservations that Aim High is the best run of them all. Every minute of contributed work by volunteers, and every dollar given the organization goes directly to provide a life-changing educational experience to wonderful middle school boys and girls from low income families. There is just no waste. The mission is clear, its execution superb. If you want to make a difference, get behind this excellent organization

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a board member at Aim High and proud to be associated with a high functioning organization that has consistently delivered outstanding programs to Bay Area students for over 30 years.

As a donor to Aim High, I am delighted with the incredible efficiency of its operation - expanding both the breadth and depth of its services each year and being responsible stewards of the organization's mission.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been on the board of Aim High for 12 years. Other reviews on this site posted by students, parents and teachers eloquently attest to Aim High's impact and excellence. Everything I have seen of the program over many years is consistent with these assessments. I would like to add my perspective as a person who has seen Aim High primarily as a board member, and also as someone who has served on many boards so can evaluate Aim High within that context. Aim High is one of the most highly functional organizations (whether for profit or nonprofit) that I have ever seen. There is a deep commitment to organizational integrity and development, a continuous practice of honest self-evaluation and self-improvement and a rigorous discipline of grounding key decisions in mission and core values. All of these attributes have allowed Aim High to expand its impact through the growth of program size and the expansion of its served geography while also maintaining high quality. These attributes also make Aim High a wonderful steward of donor dollars, ensuring a strong return on investment in the program. I cannot recommend Aim High more highly to a student, a parent, a teacher or a donor.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have now been affiliated with Aim High for over ten years as a board member and parent of 3 teaching assistants/organizational staff for Aim High. Viewing the arc of the organization's development over the past 10 years, what most impresses me is their commitment to the on-going growth and improvement of the program through continuous and rigorous self-evaluation and bench-marking, all with relation back to Aim High's core mission and core values. Aim High is blessed with a highly professional and deeply committed leadership team that has the skills and conviction to move the organization forward and also an openness to new ideas, new collaborations and new approaches that will improve the overall outcomes for the populations they are seeking to serve.

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Former staff

Rating: 5

I had such an amazing experience working as a Teaching Intern at Aim High. An amazing staff, amazing kids, and an amazingly well run and thought out program.

Donor

Rating: 5

Congratulations to Aim High on 30 years of outstanding summer programs for children in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond! Your programs change lives!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Aim High has been a part of my life since 2006. I started out as an eager and shy incoming 6th grader in the program. After completing all four years of the program as a student, I returned to volunteer and teach every summer after that. It's been a decade and my excitement level still remains at its peak when summer rolls around. I've watched my students, peers, families, and myself evolve because of this program. Individuals finally have a reason to enjoy not only school, but learning as well. The program has inspired me to not only value education, but it has also inspired me to one day become an educator as well.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High has been a part of my life since 2002. It is why I got into teaching. I treasure my friendships, my colleagues, and my experiences from Aim High. Also their leadership team is dedicated, inspired, and has a growth mindset. I never left a meeting or a day at Aim High where I didn't say 'that was worth it'.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I can tell you firsthand that Aim High changes lives. Not only the lives of the students who participate, but also those of the educators who get to work with them. The Aim High framework provides youth with the authentic environment for rigorous and fun learning each summer. Its students return year after year to soak in the magic of hands-on projects, college and career field trips, and the exploration of engaging learning. Aim High provides our most vulnerable student populations with enrichment beyond measure, keeping them academically, emotionally, and physically safe and secure, loving learning and building community!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High is my favorite place to be! I teach middle school in San Francisco and have been fortunate enough to be part of the Aim High family for four beautiful years and counting. We walk out of staff meetings saying, "Wow, that was amazing!" Our kids leave summer session saying they wish it would never end. These statements are unheard of in the world of education, yet at Aim High, these sentiments are common; they are the norm.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have watched Aim High change the lives of families for 20 years now: in San Francisco, in the Tahoe area, and in Oakland. This program, who works with low-income middle school students and their families, is powerfully effective and relentless in its goals to broaden the opportunities available to our students.

Previous Stories
6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High has dramatically changed the course of the lives of many Bay Area youth. It has also changed the course of many Bay Area adults, be they family members of students or aspiring teachers who are struck with the success of the Aim High model of education. Aim High opens doors and expands horizons of anyone who walks into this community. I have been working with this organization for 13 years and I keep coming back because of the enormous gifts it keeps on giving to our families. Thank you Aim High.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked at an Aim High site for three years, in different roles. My experience has been nothing but positive. My time with this program has helped mold me into a better educator and learner. I wish I had the student experience because the things we teach and the way we teach at Aim High is amazing. Families continue to bring their kids to our program because we make real impact during the summer and we prepare students for the road ahead on their educational journey.