Aim High is a summer learning program designed to prevent summer academic slide by providing middle school students from low-income families a summer program that blends academics and enriching activities such as sports, art, and drama. A second goal of Aim High is to build a pipeline for young people of color to enter the field of education. In 2014, Aim High engaged the Gardner Center to conduct a study to examine students’ and teachers’ experiences with the program and to identify key program elements and implementation conditions that bring about desired program outcomes. Findings include: 1) Aim High’s organizational design reflects educational and youth development philosophy that supports fostering relationships and providing ample time for learning to occur; 2) Aim High’s culture promotes a network of youth who participate as students and return as alumni staff and teachers; 3) Aim High’s curriculum and pedagogy builds the skills of students and improves their academics with habits of mind that bolster performance throughout the school year; 4) Aim High provides teachers with opportunities for formal and informal training, for developing strong relationships with students, and for innovation in the classroom.
John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (2016). An Implementation Study of the Aim High Experience. Stanford, CA