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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.

Target demographics: keep teens "into" school!

Direct beneficiaries per year: 71,000 students in 38 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

hwoch@q.com 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.