What is High Jump?

It’s academic enrichment, social-emotional learning, and high school choice support. And, it’s one of the few enrichment programs that Chicago middle school students of limited economic means can access. 

The program, designed to help students develop skills to get to and through college, is tuition-free and occurs during a student’s seventh and eighth-grade years. 

Each year the program serves over 400 motivated middle school students not already benefiting from advanced instruction at their neighborhood schools. Student commitment is six weeks of intensive daily instruction in the summer and two Saturdays each month during the school year.

High Jump helps students:   
Take advanced classes in core academic subjects, 
including mathematics, science, literature, and humanities.

Develop critical thinking and leadership skills 
that broaden their horizons and foster personal development.

Prepare extensively for top-ranked college preparatory 
high schools and highly regarded four-year colleges and universities.

High Jump Chicago

Why High Jump? Why Middle School?

High Jump has helped more than 2,000 students since 1989. Yet, Chicago has over 3,400 high-achieving sixth-grade students each year who have limited means to invest in their education. So, providing a path for academic enrichment is fundamental in improving educational outcomes. 

Middle school performance is highly predictive of a student’s future achievement in high school. In addition, research demonstrates that the middle school years are critical to helping talented students reach their full potential for later college and career success (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2011). 

Our small class learning provides a supportive environment. Students participate in intensive daily instruction with opportunities for discovery that will help them meet their academic potential. 

Academic and Social-Emotional Support that Endures

Middle school students build confidence and strengthen core learning skills to prepare for rigorous college preparatory high schools that increase their likelihood of attending college. High Jump students’ math and reading test scores improve at almost twice the rate of the average middle school student nationally.

A 16:1 student to teacher ratio – give students more one-on-one time with teachers promoting an emotionally supportive learning environment. Every High Jump 8th-grade student has the opportunity to work closely with teachers and staff to ensure a high school choice that will support their needs and goals.  

Social-emotional learning is one of the main pillars of our program to ensure students can navigate new spaces and develop relationships. High Jump is a safe space for students to practice self-advocacy and develop analytical thinking and self-expression. What students learn during the program will continue to inspire, support, and propel them in high school and beyond in a way that will profoundly impact their lives. 

Ensuring Students Persist in their Education

College completion with a four-year degree empowers our alumni with access to high-quality jobs, upward mobility, and the ability to create change in their communities.

Following High Jump, students go on to attend top high schools and colleges in Chicago and across the country– and with an 87% success rate, they’re graduating from college at a higher rate than their peers. 

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

Let’s get alumni college completion rates to 100%! 

There are dozens of college access and readiness programs for students once they reach high school: Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation, LinkUnlimited, HFS Scholars, and more. Each provides college counseling guidance, college readiness skills, and increased financial aid literacy, along with a specific area of focus. 

So let’s continue to provide community, friendship, and support to help students unlock the tools to ensure they persist in their education.

High Jump is just the beginning of a successful educational journey for many students. More than ever, we must continue to build equitable learning opportunities for Chicago’s middle school youth.

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