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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

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jacqueline T.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I can attest to the transformative power of Aim High’s work. They are a positive force to be wreckened with! Support them!!

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have never before felt so connected to my line of work. Aim High's vision and commitment to serving students and the community at large is inspiring and I count myself incredible fortunate to be part of such an inspiring, compassionate and dedicated organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm so grateful that Aim High exists: it provides such a vital service & community for middle school kids. The folks at Aim High are dedicated to offering rigorous, yet flexible curriculum, the teachers work incredibly hard, and the result is a space for students to explore intellectually and socially during the summers. I've been lucky enough to collaborate with Aim High on curriculum development, and have been blown away by their commitment to the students. I have no doubt that kids who attend Aim High are more prepared for high school and college than their peers.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High is a Summer Enrichment program unlike any other. While Aim High receives some credit (still not enough) for the amount of work it does for the children it serves, it also does a supreme job of developing rising educators.

I joined as a Teaching Intern fresh out of High School. Aim High's teaching model is a unique one; teachers are split up into teams of either two or three, with one Lead Teacher and an Intern and/or Assistant. This model provides a plethora of benefits. I teach a class called Issues and Choices, in which we create a classroom culture that promotes College and Career Awareness, as well as Social Emotional Learning (bullying, empathy, goal setting, problem solving, etc). The very nature of our class requires forming close connections with our kids. One of the benefits of our teaching model is there is a teacher in every classroom that every student can relate to. Not every person likes every person; this extends to the classroom. Not every student is going to relate to me, its a simple reality. By having two other talented people teaching with me, we can guarantee that connection, and in turn the student buy-in.

I spent the first two years as an Intern, learning closely from an AMAZING Lead Teacher. Aim High provides an environment where young folks who care can jump in, gather best practices, and explore the world of educating our undeserved youth. Seasoned teachers are able to not only share their ideas, but improve upon them with profound support. I have a not-unique story when it comes to Aim High. When I started, I was an International Relations major, dabbling in education. After two summers at Aim High, I transferred schools and became a Child Psychology major. The amount of bright, talented individuals that Aim High has lured into education from other fields is innumerable. I personally know one Civil-Engineer-to-Dean-of-Students, and am introduced to countless others every summer.

Aim High's success goes beyond the summer classroom. They create and prepare rising educators, and veteran teachers bring new tools and techniques to their school year. In this way, they not only benefit the students they serve during the summer, but likely thousands more.

It is easy for me to say that stumbling upon the Aim High family nearly seven years is one of the defining moments of my life. Please help ensure another 29 years of Aim High serving our communities.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High is like no other non profit I know. They truly honor their mission and vision and create a safe space for young people to learn, grow and feel like a part of a community. What makes Aim High so unique is their commitment to academic excellence, culturally relevant curriculum and a holistic approach towards youth development. I have worked in a variety of educational setting and no where else have I felt as supported and encouraged to grow as a teacher than I did at Aim High. For both the students and teachers, Aim High is something we look forward to all school year, that one place where we can feel nurtured and inspired to be our best.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High is a life changing experience for students growing up in the concrete. Every summer, hundreds of students interact with passionate teachers, critical subjects, and build confidence and new friendships. Because middle school years are some of the most challenging, Aim High is a wonderful academic program that helps students become into young adults. As a Lead Teacher for the past two years, I've been able to work with young minds and see how much Aim High impacts their life. I honestly believe Aim High transforms students lives forever, because school should be fun and challenging at the same time. This is the mission and magic of Aim High and I'm so happy that I get to be a part of this amazing program.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have taught with Aim High for 2 summers. The quality of collaboration and investment of teaching and site director staff is outstanding and makes for an empowering and creative teaching environment. The Aim High magic is real and keeps me coming back. Students really get the opportunity to find their creative outlet and explore what inspires them.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High has been a part of my heart since 2001 when I began working as a TA. It did not take me long to realize how special of a program it was, one that truly brought "magic" to middle school students' summers. Aim High's fun and challenging classes combined with memorable assemblies and field trips are just a few things that set it apart from traditional summer school. And though academics is a huge focus of the 5-week program, Aim High also realizes the importance of social emotional learning, especially during the formative middle school years. Classes like Issues & Choices help students learn and reflect about themselves and the person they want to become. Graduates who return to volunteer and later teach just goes to show how much of a impact Aim High has had on their lives!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with students in Aim HIgh for over 20 years and have seen amazingly positive results. Aim High has changed the lives of many students and teachers for the better. Aim High is a great program that teaches kids how to learn and teaches new teachers how to teach. I am proud to be a part of Aim High.

Previous Stories
7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with Aim High for over 15 years. Each year I am amazed by the diversity of backgounds that are represented in the community. The mix of teachers and students is wonderfully diverse and adds a richness to the experience, no matter what it is. Each Friday of Aim High I am exhausted from the work but satisfied by the accomplishment. Working at Aim HIgh has been a very rewarding experience for me and has informed my teaching greatly.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High stands alone in what they do for middle school students and their families in the Bay Area. I cannot say enough about the magic that infuses all that happens on an Aim High campus summer after summer. Students gain confidence and pride in their academic work, their abilities, and themselves. It's impossible to overstate the impact this program has had, and will continue to have, in the lives of SF youth and their parents and caregivers. Educators are given the tools they need to succeed, while important connections are forged for students with local schools, community organizations, and corporate partners, all eager to be involved in changing lives through shaping a life-long commitment to learning. I am so proud to be a supporter and friend of Aim High, and will be rooting for Aim High students, families, and educators always!

Kate88

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a school social worker and former teacher. I work with middle school students in San Francisco and have seen lives changed by this amazing summer program. Students blossom during the five weeks they spend at Aim High. They come back to school with stories of exploration, new friendships, new interested, increased motivation, and smiles on their faces.

I wish every student I worked with during the academic year could experience what they call the "magic" of Aim High.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Aim High for the past six years, first as a Teacher and now as a Site Director. As an educator, Aim High has been a great source of inspiration and motivation. Friends would often ask why I never took summers off since summer vacation is often considered a "perk" of a teacher's schedule. The truth is that I didn't take summers off because I found my summers at Aim High to be very invigorating and refreshing. I had the freedom to be creative with developing a curriculum that was project-based with lots of hands-on learning opportunities. I worked with a group of educators who were dedicated to social justice and committed to instilling a love of learning and curiosity in our students. It was very rewarding to be part of the many "ah-ha" moments that our students would have over the summer. The sense of community at Aim High kept me coming back every year. Now as a Site Director, I really appreciate the opportunity to support new teachers in developing skills and discovering best practices. Taking charge of the program logistics has also been a great learning opportunity for me. Summer after summer I continue to feel invigorated by the impact that Aim High has in the lives of our students and our staff. The level of student engagement and support at Aim High inspires students to develop a new confidence in themselves. It challenges them to try new things and take their learning to new levels. Staff members are also inspired by their experience at Aim High. They form meaningful relationships with students as mentors. They see how their hard work has an important impact in the lives of students and their families. Many staff members decide to pursue education as a career based on their experience at Aim High. I feel very lucky to be part of such an amazing organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Magic is real at Aim High, where students, staff and community members come together to enact the CORE values each summer, year after year -- Community, Opportunity, Respect, and high Expectations.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Aim High is exactly what education should be. After an 8 hour day, our kids literally say that they do not want to go home because they want more of Aim High. In my 7 years as a professional educator at a Title I school in San Francisco, I have never seen children not want to leave school - except at Aim High. This organization is special. It instills confidence, leadership, community, friendship, growth, provides opportunities...it's a family. I began working with Aim High 3 years ago as a math teacher and eventually became a Site Director. This program is one in a million. When I imagine what a school should look like and what school should feel like for students, Aim High is my dream. Over the summer, it's my reality. This program is not only incredibly important for students, but also for the adults coming in to the field of education. I work with passionate people every day. Alec and Matt have supported me since the day I became part of the Aim High family. I have never, ever in my life, had a job where I truly felt inspired and supported by my employers and colleagues to this extent. From the founders of the organization to the incredible staff at the Central Office to the enormously talented (and growing!) group of individuals who make up our individual Aim High Sites, this is, in my opinion, the greatest educational nonprofit in existence. I am humbled and honored to be part of such an incredible team.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The professional development that Aim High provided to me as a new teacher equipped me with the tools I needed to persist and thrive in my now 10+ years as an educator. Jumping into the Aim High community with both feet allowed me to experience the strong relationship building and love of learning that results in academic and life success for students. Thanks to Aim High, I continue to improve at supporting teachers and students and am more comfortable as a leader in the area of college access for all.