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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

CHOICES Education Group

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Job Training, Secondary & High Schools, Vocational Counseling, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Our mission is to empower students with vital tools that will increase their career and life opportunities.

Results: We have served more than 6 million US teens since 1985. Students give CHOICES an “approval rating” of 85%, and teachers give it 97%. Come see why teens love our workshop, and why business volunteers find it so rewarding to deliver in the classroom.

Target demographics: keep teens "into" school!

Direct beneficiaries per year: 40,000 students in 25 states

Geographic areas served: North America

Programs: CHOICES, an interactive live classroom workshop that empowers teens to make positive educational CHOICES to increase their career and life opportunities. In two 45-minute sessions trained community volunteers take students through real-world exercises on the consequences of dropping out and the benefits of educational attainment, also introducing them to skills for success such as self-discipline, decision making, time management and goal setting. CHOICES has been delivered to more than six million teens in three countries since 1985. Our follow-up activity is a cell phone text messaging game that teens play out of school to help them practice making thoughtful choices. The game asks them to guide a fictional in-game character facing daily choices based on the classroom workshop, engaging them in critical thinking to address challenging situations they will themselves face in high school.

Community Stories

43 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been presenting the CHOICES Workshop since 2003 and have been the Optimist Club Project Manager for the last 4 years. The progarm is fun for the 8th grade students and many have a chance to participate and see the outcome of good and bad choices regarding their decisions about education in high school. Without exception, our Presenters say " I wish someone had told me these things when I was in Middle School". The majority of the students rate the Workshop as 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. The teachers love the program and have requested that we present it early in the school year so that they can refer to it and build on it during the year.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the CHOICES Program for several years both as a presenter and as the local presenter coordinator. I knew we were onto a good thing when early into the program we received an email from our district's At-Risk coordinator telling us that the student she considered to be her most "at-risk" for dropping out came to her at the conclusion of the program excited about what he had heard and promising that he would make sure to finish high school. CHOICES does make a difference, and I am privileged to be a part of it.

Heather Hoflander
Higginsville, Mo.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The CHOICES program is an integral element presented yearly in our local junior high school. This was my second year to be involved with the program. I would love to see it presented at every junior high school in our parish. CHOICES is unique, in that real life, pertinent information is presented by someone other than the student's teacher or parent. Those presenting are leaders in the community from various backgrounds. Students see these individuals in the community and know they are committed to the cause. CHOICES promotes and asks for a commitment for the student to graduate high school....this is a very important aspect that I believe makes a difference.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been presenting CHOICES in the classroom for 3 years. The video and notecard training is excellent. With this training and the visual aids and well played lesson plans, anyone who has the desire to help our youth, can! The program builds the eight grade students self-esteem and makes them realize that they are in control of their lives. They are in control of most of the factors in their life and are given a dog tag reminding them: "I am who I choose to become." The students are taught goal setting and visualization. They imagine what life will be like at age 25. They are taught about money and all the bills that need to be paid in the real world. Self-discipline is stressed! The students are given a key chain reminder that the "Key to Success is self-discipline." If they are to be successful, time management is another key. One of my students used this quote to describe CHOICES: "If you make bad choices I will go NOwhere. If I make good choices, you can go ANYwhere!"

Volunteer

Rating: 5

[email protected] I consider the Choices Program as one of the most valuable tools available to allow "real world" employes or retired to enter the Class rooms and emhasize the value and importance of getting a solid HS education. It is the bedrock to follow on employments/continued education of the students CHOICE! Not limited by poot HS education. We presenters can tell of our pluses/minuses from a non-parent, non teacher, standpoint - from the HEART! I have been directing/given classes for 22 years and hope to continue! I have had my Choices students in the 11/12 grades when they see me thet THANK ME!! WOW!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania has been bringing the CHOICES workshop to our local schools since the 2006-2007 school year. We started in 4 school districts and are now in 10 school districts. The materials are excellent. Teachers and guidance counselors are engaged and have appreciated the support from the business community. The CHOICES Education Group staff is wonderful to work with!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The CHOICES program has been a major outreach initiative for Santee Cooper, South Carolina's Public Power Company, since 2001. CHOICES is a unique example of how education and businesses work together to benefit sutdents as they prepare for adult life. As one of our former Executive Vice President's and CHOICES presenter shared, "It's a very, very good program. It is well-conceived, practical and gives a perspective to young people of things they need to learn. It allowed me to connect with the students. One of the important aspects of the program is that we are not a teacher or administrator they see every day. We're someone new and that may make us and our message more appealing to them."

CHOICES has definitely been a program that has had a profound impact not only on the students served, but on the presenters (Santee Cooper employees) as well. Sponsoring this program in the three school districts we serve has been a perfect "CHOICE."

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered as a presenter with CHOICES for the last 3 years and I thoroughly enjoy working in all the different schools and connecting with the teens. It's eye opening to see the differences not only between classes, but schools in the same district. Exploring their choices with them through this fun, engaging and very hands-on interactive program has opened my eyes to the teens of today and all that they have going on in their world. It isn't easy being a teen today and if we can help guide them through this complicated time in their lives, it's worth it. I truly believe they have taught me more than I have taught them over the years. I had a student last year write " I was thinking about dropping out but you changed my mind". This is why we do this folks !

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with CHOICES over two years ago and have loved the program ever since. Having worked in the non-profit sector myself in Development and Fundraising for the last twenty years , I can say first hand that CHOICES is doing it right - from getting their message across to teens to delivering a quality program and by using volunteers, keeping costs and overheads low. A challenge for any non-profit in this day and age! But most of all, my main reason for volunteering is the impact CHOICES has on our teens. It's such a fun interactive program that kids get the message without feeling like they've been lectured at or told what to do by yet another adult. It's been such a wonderful experience for me and I've even used some of the lessons with my own two teenagers with success!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our Rotary Club in Calumet, Michigan used this program several years in a row with incoming high school freshman. Some graduating seniors thanked us at their graduation last year, remembering the program from when they were freshmen!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a workshop presenter and I have seen how the games and important messages conveyed through the games engage the students with ease. The workshops truly spark lots of excitement, fun and meaningful dialouge and concrete understandings about how making good choices now equals great choices in ones future.

CHOICES Education should be in every middle and high school because it truly brings the big picture to the students in a manner that they can relate to and enjoy learning.

Sincerely,
Debra Brown
Bank of America Workshop Presenter

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry was looking for a program that would improve the graduation rate in our local school district. It is part of our initiative to build bridges between school and work to create a job ready workforce pipeline. In 2014 we engaged 50+ volunteers that became certified as CHOICES presenters. We touched 1,158 students in 51 classrooms, 11 teachers and 4 administrators. There was positive program feedback from the teachers, administration, students, and volunteers that participated in CHOICES.

The CHOICES curriculum provides students with the understanding that self-discipline is the key to success. It helps them understand that they can choose who they become and overcome obstacles in life to be successful. The presenters also gained valuable insight about the influences that are impacting their future workforce. It provided the business community with tools to interact more effectively with educators to address workforce pipeline requirements.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Choices program is hands down the best goal setting, accountability and financial literacy program for young people that I have ever seen. The material is designed to pack a powerful message in a fun, interactive way. I have never presented a program that gets the whole class involved like Choices does!

We will be presenting to local districts again this year!

Paul Ouellette
Senior Vice President
Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been teaching CHOICES for ten years and started the process with our Rotary Club. We have 15-20 volunteers from our club teaching several classes in our area schools. Approximately 350 students) It is an excellent teaching mechanism for the students because it is done at their communication level and their prospective. As volunteer teachers we also bring a whole new prospective to their classroom and it seems to take heed because we are not their everyday teachers. The curriculum is fast paced and keeps their attention. It touches on a broad base of subjects that are all geared to focus the students on staying in school. We will continue to teach CHOICES in our schools and have been working very hard on getting other Rotary Clubs in our District to do the same. We are now over 20 clubs and growing every year. This non-profit effort of CHOICES really hits home with their no-nonsense way of bringing a message to kids today.
Thank you CHOICES!!
David Matty - Mountain Home, Arkansas

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Choices Education Group is a great non-profit to volunteer for! The students I've presented to really seem to take a lot from it. Kids aren't necessarily all taught how important and empowered they are with there future and choices does a great job filling that space. Everyone I've met through choices is nice supportive and always has a great story. Thanks Leo and Christine for your commitment to educate and develop our youth!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am both a board member (since 2006) and a regular presenter. I love this program! Time and time again I leave the classroom feeling like I made a difference in at least one kid's perspective. It's a great message and really gets them thinking about why education will be important specifically to them and the life they wish to lead later!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have followed the activities of CHOICES since it was founded in 1985. Since that time over six million students have received the CHOICES message of how the choices they make today can have a profound effect for the rest of their lives. Students hear it and 88% approve of it while 97% of their teachers agree.

A program that has 140 sites in 38 states sounds like it might be expensive. At $4.86 per student it is not. The reason it is not is that a great many volunteers deliver the message because they feel it is very compelling and very necessary.

The National Chamber of Commerce agrees with them in as much as a few years ago it selected CHOICES as one of five finalists in their search for the best Community Based Programs in the country.

Matt52

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The CHOICES program that we presented to eighth graders last year really opened some eyes. Eighth grade students are well-positioned to have their eyes opened when their attention is drawn to developments that could be happening in their lives soon. It's relevant, so unless they are completely hopeless they pay attention. And the program is hopeful. So it draws attention.

The presentation is simple, engaging, and easily replicated by willing volunteers, which is a recipe for success and continuity of the program as well as for the kids.

Greg39

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been leading the CHOICES program at Junior High Schools in the area of Robinson Township / Moon Township and Hopewell Township in Pittsburgh, PA for some years now. My experience has been that it is helpful to the students to help them learn to make the correct CHOICES in their student life, personal life and learn to plan for the future. I have taught this program at schools with a high High School drop out rate and at schools that really already have the students on a correct path. In all spectrum of the Junior High Schools the program reaches students. People coming from industry and participating in this program probably touch students differently than their parents or their teachers. I participate in the program as much as possible and am considering if I have time to be on the board of directors for this program in the future. I was able to make the right CHOICES when I was young to follow the path that I really wanted to in life. But possibly, not all students are able to do this for so many reasons. This programs helps them realize that they can make changes and can make the right CHOICES, no matter what they have done in the past.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been presenting this program the last 3 years in the St Robert Missouri area. It has been a rewarding experience. As I told the last class last week. If I can help just one student to stay in school and graduate than I am happy happy, but I would like to know that I have helped all 30 of you students so that I may be happy, happy, happy.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Choices for 12 years presenting in the local schools and serving on the Board. It truely makes a difference in the lives of kids reinforcing the message of continuing to build their foundation of education to support their future endeavours. The program is fun and egaging. I would highly recommend it to others.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering and presenting the CHOICES program in several diffrent middle schools for about 7 years now. The program is very well constructed to catch the young student's attention and gets them thinking about the importance of education. They are presented with a true account of where they could be in life after high school, good or bad, depending on their dedication to learn.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering last year (2012) and enjoyed it very much. When Kathi presented to our Rotary club (Gonzales), I knew it was something I needed to do. I am always talking with youth about going to college and this program is perfect with the ability to reach an entire class at a time and really have an impact.
When presented the opportunity to participate in another year, I jumped at the opportunity.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I volunteered for CHOICES when it was just starting out and am honored to be a part of CHOICES again! The program has grown and expanded over the years, but the basic goal of presenting to young people the concept that by graduating from high school they have more choices in life, has only gotten stronger. The program materials blend the basics of why staying in school is so important with the opportunities of using technology to further connect with students and enhance the program. It is also enduring to see long time sponsors continue and new sponsors see value in encouraging young people and providing meaningful volunteer opportunities for their employees.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer for Choices last year through Lodi Rotary . It was a great experience, the material was easy to use and the kids were able to participate and learn. It is a great program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love this program because it is geared toward helping kids stay in school. Too many kids drop out without realizong the consequences of their choice. This program educates the kids in a non-threatening way that is also interactive and fun.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

my name is don cotnoir Sun City Hilton Head, Beaufort County SC
I have been a CHOICES volunteer for 3 years until last year when the SC Jasper County school was unable to fund it. It is a poverty minority driven county.
As a retired computer scientist I have delivered over 300 (resident donated) computers to several local schools where they are given to deserving/needy students--determined by their teachers

Choices is an outstanding program and I wish it would come back to this county as their are so many good kids that are being led astray by lack of motivation/encouragement, discouraged with no positive goal in sight , drugs and little, if any, parental involvement.
I know of no other program that will make a difference in the lives of kids that Choices has made.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello, my name is David Matty and I am a Financial Advisor and a Rotarian in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I heard about the CHOICES educational program about ten years ago and I spearheaded an effort to get our Rotary Club to start doing it in our area schools. We learned together how to teach the program to eightn graders and then we went into the schools, all as volunteers and presented the program. What a response!! The students and teachers both felt it was such a great worthwhile program they wanted to do it every year. We got so much out of it as Rotarians, we wanted to also do it every year! We are now presenting CHOICES to three area schools and to over 300 eighth graders each year. The teachers call us each fall to tell our Rotary Club when they have us in their curriculum! I now also serve our Rotary District as CHOICES Chairman and we have over 25 Rotary Clubs presenting CHOICES in their area schools! It is a program that the students can relate to and it is given in a way they can understand! I love CHOICES and will give it 5 stars!!

Vusani N.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

This organization focuses on preparing middle school kids for graduating high school and setting goals to achieve at least that level of education. The material we present is revelant to the kids and they enjoy hearing from members of the community. It's a great opportunity to improve the chances of our kids having a good future. If you enjoy speaking with kids and want to give back to the community this organization is great for you.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an 8th grade business education teacher, I have used the Choices Program for a number of years. The program is used at the conclusion of each of my courses to help prepare them for high school and beyond. I am very pleased with the participation level I see from all my students when they get involved in the different activities. It is a tremendous program!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great program that brings together business and community leaders with young students at a critical point in their education. There is an alarming dropout rate among Hispanic students in Southern California. Choices go outside the school staff to bring professionals to meet directly with the kids. We are experiencing a measurable decrease in the dropout rate.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am on the Board of Directors of Choices. It is a program that has been in existence for 27 years and serves more than 100,000 teens yearly in about 40 states across the country. It runs on a low overhead cost. It helps eighth graders to see that they can take responsibility for the choices they make and that the right choices will assure a better life for themselves. I highly recommend it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so glad I have had the opportunity to volunteer with this program. After participating and teaching a class it prompted me to have some of these discussions with my own niece.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have to admit, I wish this program would have visited my school and my class when I was in eighth grade! I was recruited by a co-worker to volunteer to help with the Choices program in our area. After presenting the program to several schools and eighth grade classes, I feel I learned as much, presenting to the students, as the students learned from the materials presented. In my experience, one of the biggest eye openers for the students and myself was the timeline and where we fall on the timeline of life. I think it is hard for students to understand how much more life they have to live beyond elementary school and high school. Once you see it on the timeline, it really shows that the decisions they are about to make and the decisions I am still currently making, affect the rest of our life and guide us to our future. This program not only sets them up to make the best choices going forward in their academics but also in their career choices. This program also teaches students about consequences to those decisions as well as money and time management. I absolutely believe that this program is essential to the successful growth of our youth and should be included in all cities and in all elementary schools. This group is well run, has AWESOME materials for the presenter and the students and has a GREAT message for students and adults alike. I hope this group wins an award because they truely deserve it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Choices is absolutely an awesome program for teens. It's fun, interesting, engaging and most of all, the teens "get it"! They understand what it means to make decisions/choices in various parts of their school and life making them accountable for consequences both good and bad. They also learn that it's not possible to ALWAYS make a good decision in which case they become "wise" by not making the same bad choice again. Volunteering for a CHOICES program is also very meaningful and enlightening. One spends two days with the same eighth grade class....and you get to know the kids. By calling on some of the more shy ones to volunteer, the CHOICES vignettes actually helps them to be more vocal and make their opinions known. Overall, as a volunteer, I'm hooked. I enjoy the interaction with the students and assisting them to leaning about choice-making. I strongly feel that I am having a positive impact on some very impressionable young people...and that doesn't happen very often!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been teaching CHOICES for two years in Arizona. This program has a HUGE impact on students, through its novel, always fresh approach to connecting students' current lives to their future aspirations. Every student connects with the program in some way. The program makes a long-lasting difference in each of their lives.

Keith21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for choices for five years now. The first groups of students I presented to graduated last Spring. I heard positive feedback from a few of those graduating Seniors. We hope to continue offering this program in our local schools every year so that every young person will get this powerful message here!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first year volunteering for the Choices Program through the NB Chamber of Commerce and I will definetly volunteer again!
The Choice Program made the students realize that the choices they make while being in school have great effects in their future endevors. The students that I incountered at Roosevelt Middle School were eager to listen and learn and I found that to be one of the highlights of my day.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I organized a group of business professionals who volunteered to present this program to freshmen in a city high school. It was an incredible success. The curriculum is brilliant, because it isn't adults "talking at" students, but is activity based, and the students really enjoy it. They also learn the lessons you are teaching, and based on the follow up I did with the teachers, it had a lasting impact. In addition, the adults really enjoyed it becuase they had very successful experience working with city teenagers, which some of them were a bit nervous about. They left feeling good about themselves, good about the students, and several of them continued to volunteer at the school.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Seven years ago, I began in a newly generated position at the Hermiston School District. As the Project College Bound Coordinator, I was to create a culture of post-secondary education in our rural community. Being new to the district and that the program was new, I was always on the hunt for ways to change the mindset of our students. When researching for a speech on making choices, I stumbled upon the “CHOICES” Program located in Seattle, Washington. The very small CHOICES staff, has been exceptional in working with our school district to find funding to implement the program. The program itself is designed in such a manner as engage the student’s attention and make them active participants not only during the presentation, but active participants in their own lives as well. The presentation makes the topic of Money Management and the concept of planning for their future relevant to the students. This presentation has become a necessity in our Health Classes that are delivered to freshmen and has allowed me to mentor many students that I met during the presentations.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I voluntered through our local Rotary to facilitate Choices in our local schools for three years. This is an exceptional program which gives teens some insight into the decisions they make early in life. These decisions can be a springboard for future success if they understand they are empowered. What seems to be a small choice can bring huge results. Being young doesn't mean you don't have choices to make concerning your future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Choices Program is one of the best ways to get students to realize the benefits of staying in school that I have seen. Even though it is basically designed for 8th graders, it could be successfully used all the way through high school. I have found myself using the premise that 'the key to success is making good choices' more than once when talking to my children and grandchildren. It is presented in a very non-confrontational way, so that even if you come from a home where your parents have not made good choices, you see how just making one good choice at a time can turn your life around.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I volunteered as a presenter for the Choices program for several years, and considered it one of the most important programs to have in the public school system. Encouraging students not just to stay in school, but to take the important classes that lead to college, military, or training in the years following high school.
While the state and federal governments outwardly applaud public education, they don't do enough to fund programs like this.