Students Share a Glimpse of What’s Possible with High Jump

When we talk about the critical work that High Jump does and the impact that we have on the educational landscape in Chicago, there is of course the cold hard data that backs up the power and success of our work including:

87% of High Jump Scholars graduate from college (compared to 41% of all academically strong low-income students)

High Jump scholars receive an additional 350 hours of academic enrichment per year

According to CPS data, two years of High Jump is equivalent to four years of academic growth for a student.

However, to really get to know the impact that High Jump has, you should hear it from our scholars themselves. To give you a small glimpse into what becomes possible thanks to High Jump, here are the stories of three talented and motivated students who have taken the academic enrichment and social-emotional learning of the program to grow as students, citizens, and human beings.

“High Jump has expanded my learning space and has opened my mind.”


Ayan is a rising 8th grader from Albany Park, the daughter of two parents who immigrated from Libya. Ayan loves to play volleyball and basketball and is a member of High Jump’s 33rd cohort. Although she didn’t know much about High Jump two years ago as a sixth grader, when she got a letter in the mail addressed to her, everything changed: “I was running all over the house! I thought it would be a good opportunity that I might not get in the future.”

Now, going into her second summer at High Jump, Ayan has already seen real time tangible benefits from the additional academic enrichment High Jump provides. During 7th grade, in math class, a subject she has found to be her most difficult in the past, Ayan was excited when they started learning algebra at her home school because in High Jump “I had already learned about solving for the X” and had gotten dedicated one-on-one time with her High Jump math teacher to help her grow to a point where math was something to look forward to and not something to fear. At the same time, High Jump has helped Ayan learn more about herself as a “a fun person and a little bit weird too” with a community of fellow scholars (and new friends) from around the city who have helped grow her view of the world and become more confident of the places she can go in it.

“Now, I feel like I can achieve anything that I put my mind to”


Another member of the 33rd cohort, Alexander is a rising 8th grader from Little Village whose love of the murals and buildings in his neighborhood have inspired him to one day become an architect. In High Jump, he has found that dream nurtured by providing him with a space where his already passionate academic mindset can be cultivated and challenged.

During the last school year, Alexander found himself struggling to prepare for a test at his home school; however, after a Saturday session at High Jump he found himself motivated to hit the books hard and hunker down and study. “ I ended up getting a 104% on the test.” Alexander is acutely aware of the opportunity that High Jump provides because “in Mexico, my grandparents couldn’t really go to school.” But now, with the extra time and effort that High Jump adds to the trajectory of his education, he feels that he is “one step forward” every day in school and, at the same time, is so excited for “how much this could help me in the future.” With the confidence he has developed in High Jump, he feels certain now that “one day I could build houses, and even design a house for my family.”

“During my time in High Jump, I felt like I could most be myself.”


Trinity is many things: A rising senior in high school; president of her school’s Black Student Union; a writer; an actress; a volunteer with the Chicago Parks District; an alumni of High Jump’s 29th cohort; and a current High Jump Teaching Assistant (TA) in the Learners and Leaders class. After two years in the program where she found herself growing by leaps and bounds both inside and outside of the classroom, Trinity graduated from High Jump with a desire to maintain and give back to the community that helped her grow into the person she is today. “High Jump is a very uplifting and positive community and that’s what I needed as a child.”

Now, as a young adult, Trinity’s passion for learning has been transformed into a passion for teaching. Thanks in large part to the ways that TAs helped her while she was a High Jump scholar, she was inspire to come back and work with current High Jump scholars and help them with everything from figuring out how to navigate a difficult subject to “lightening up the mood” to serving as a confidant that students can open up to “and tell me what’s going on outside the classroom and at home.” Going into her second year as a TA, Trinity has seen a path open up before her that she had not considered before: that of becoming a teacher. “I now really want to be an English teacher,” and, one day, “I hope I can come back once more and be a teacher at High Jump.”

These are just three stories out of more than 500 scholars currently in the program and over 2,500 alumni of High Jump from the past 33 years. Each and every scholar who goes through High Jump has their own unique story just like Ayan, Alexander, and Trinity. Each and every scholar who comes through our program sees the effects these two years have on the trajectory of their lives in the present moment and for years to come. And each and every scholar who comes through our program creates ripple effects on the lives of their peers and on the entire education system in Chicago, pushing all students to continue to grow. Together, with your support and the passion and drive of Chicago’s next generation of leaders, High Jump will continue to help students thrive.

You can help more students like Ayan, Alexander, and Trinity pursue their dreams with High Jump’s help!

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