Mission: Open Doors works to nurture, protect, inspire and challenge adolescents to reach their full potential through the provision of meaningful out-of-school enrichment activities in a safe and structured environment, and to improve our neighborhoods by collaborating with families and the community.
Results: In the last five years, ODA has grown from one site and three employees to 10 middle school and high school sites and 43 employees. In the last two years we completed a strategic plan, branding and marketing campaign, purchased two new vehicles to help us transport youth, moved our administrative offices to our new headquarters in downtown Cleveland, and standardized our program model in an effort to prepare for future expansion and growth.
Target demographics: ODA serves low-income youth living in high-risk environments in the Greater Cleveland Community between the ages of 11 and 18 years.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 450 Youth and 1,200 family members
Geographic areas served: Northeast Ohio, predominantly serving the Greater Cleveland Community
Programs: Open Doors Academy provides year-round quality enrichment programming that addresses the unique developmental needs of our students.
Member youth participate in project based learning experiences such as core enrichment programs and academic tutoring built around their developmental needs, full-day summer camps and service learning trips. Keys to the program include building a safe haven filled with support, creating a sense of community, and fostering the kids' confidence. ODA builds this environment by engaging parents, teachers and other community partners.
To meet our kids is to understand the importance of our organization. I have personally seen the light bulbs go off in our students heads when they realize, for the first time in their lives, they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. The skills they learn while with Open Doors Academy help set them up for success in school and in life.
Professional with expertise in this field
One of the reasons I enjoy working at Open Doors Academy is because the organization uses a holistic model to serve youth and families. A major component of the model is building positive and meaningful relationships with parents and youth. This is especially important with the development of youth. Students enroll in Open Doors Academy as early as sixth grade and continue on through middle school and then high school. Through these mentor relationships students are likely to be at less-risk and succeed academically. Working daily with our youth I can say I am witness to the success of our students.
My daughter is an Open Doors student and has been provided with experiences that she will remember for a life time. Zip lining in the woods, going to Cleveland's International Film Festival, volunteering for local organizations and going to local theater productions have all been a part of this program. For many middle schoolers it is a time where they question everything that is going on around them. Open Doors staff was there to help me answer the many questions my daughter had about growing up and about life. The staff provides all of the students with extra support academically and helps develop the students understanding that these middle school years create the foundation that is needed to be successful in high school. All middle schools would benefit from an Open Doors Academy program in their school.