student in a class discussion | High Jump Chicago

Rebuilding Confidence, Rebuilding Community

More than 3,400 high-achieving, low-income students in Chicago enter sixth grade each year. These students have limited means to invest in their education, with long-term implications; middle school performance is highly predictive of a student’s future high school achievement. And research from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute shows that the middle school years are critical to helping talented students reach their full potential in college and beyond. 

Each year, High Jump helps more than 400 of these students develop the skills to get to and through college. Our tuition-free program includes academic enrichment, social-emotional learning, and high school choice support, taking place over six weeks in the summer and two Saturdays each month during the school year.

Following High Jump, students go on to attend top high schools and colleges in Chicago and across the country. With an 87% success rate, High Jump alumni graduate from college at a higher rate than their peers. Nationally, only 41% of all academically strong, low-income students graduate college.

A comparison of 4-Year College Completion Rates
87% - High Jump alumni Cohorts 18-20*
33% - All Americans 25 years or older
14% - All low-income students nationally†
41% - All academically strong low-income students nationally†

within six years of high school completion
†within eight years of high school completion

Students entering sixth grade last year faced new challenges. Just as they were finding their footing, the pandemic pulled the rug out from under their feet. “I’m not gonna lie, online learning, it was pretty hard. Sometimes I just did not want to be there,” says Antonia, a High Jump student. Fellow High Jump participant Adrian concurs, saying that “focusing felt impossible. I didn’t know how to handle it. I got pretty quiet.”

However, after enrolling in High Jump, Antonia and Adrian quickly gained what so many other students have gotten out of the program: the confidence to be themselves, regardless of the circumstances. “Once I joined High Jump, I started speaking up more during class. I’ve felt myself grow so much, and now I’m more open and confident than I’ve ever been,” says Adrian.

Despite the challenges of remote learning, High Jump continued to provide otherwise inaccessible opportunities for our students. “I didn’t get to do any computer programming in middle school,” says Adrian. “But we had a virtual programming class at High Jump and it showed me all these new cool languages and ways to make websites. I’m excited to pursue my new passion in high school.”

Since returning to in-person learning with High Jump this past summer, Antonia and Adrian are now getting ready to make the leap into high school. They feel more seen, valued, and assured of themselves than ever before, and they know that they’ve found their people and their place. “In High Jump, you form different friendships, you form different bonds, you learn and grow, and that’s just awesome. It has kept me energized, motivated, and on my feet through it all. I hope that a lot more kids get to experience what I’ve experienced for the past two years.”

For all of our students, High Jump is just the beginning of a successful educational journey. With the resources, access, and community that High Jump provides to Chicago’s middle school students, they feel more confident and empowered.

Our work is more critical than ever. Will you donate today to ensure continued support for our students?

Posted in ,