Aim High: Supporting Out-of-School Time Programs Serving Middle School Youth
The New York Life Foundation created the Aim High grant program to help afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs provide the resources, help, and guidance to middle school students be better prepared for the critical transition into high school.
In 2023, the Aim High Grant competition awarded 40 grants: 20 one-year $15,000 grants, 10 two-year $50,000 grants, and 10 two-year $100,000 grant awards, totaling $1.8 million.
Ten one-year grants are aimed at supporting students’ well-being, which has been significantly impacted by the pandemic as the nation faces a national emergency in adolescent mental health. Additionally, 10 one-year grant opportunities focus on supporting programs’ racial equity and social justice efforts, as the New York Life Foundation recognizes it’s imperative to build on its commitment to support an equal and just society.
Two-year grant opportunities focus on supporting programs to enhance direct service activities, technical assistance, capacity building, and their efforts to support middle school youth.
The following 10 organizations were awarded one-year grants of $15,000 to support students’ well-being:
- City Surf Project, San Francisco, California
- Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County, Fort Pierce, Florida
- Youth & Opportunity United, Evanston, Illinois
- New City Kids, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Girls Inc. of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Student U, Durham, North Carolina
- Boys & Girls Club of Wake County, Raleigh, North Carolina
- UpSpring, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association, Cleveland, Ohio
- Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach, El Paso, Texas
The following 10 organizations were awarded one-year grants of $15,000 to advance racial and social justice:
- Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, California
- One World Education, Washington, DC
- Swaliga Foundation, Washington, DC
- The Treehouse Foundation, Easthampton, Massachusetts
- Girls Inc. of Long Island, Deer Park, New York
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, Warm Springs, Oregon
- Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
- Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis, Tennessee
- Girls Empowerment Network, Austin, Texas
- Workshop Houston, Houston, Texas
The following 10 organizations were awarded grants of $50,000, payable over two years:
- Rising Youth Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona
- Uncommon Good, Claremont, California
- Raw Art Works, Lynn, Massachusetts
- Elevate Navajo, Ft. Defiance, Navajo Nation (Arizona and New Mexico)
- Horizons New York City, Brooklyn, New York
- Operation Exodus Inner City, Inc., New York, New York
- South Bronx United, Bronx, New York
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland County, Shelby, North Carolina
- East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, East Cleveland, Ohio
- Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary, East Barre, Vermont
The following 10 organizations were awarded grants of $100,000, payable over two years:
- Lawrence CommunityWorks, Inc., Lawrence, Massachusetts
- Sociedad Latina, Roxbury, Massachusetts
- Coaching for Change, Taunton, Massachusetts
- Reel Works, Brooklyn, New York
- Korean American Family Service Center, Flushing, New York
- ourBRIDGE, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Refugee Empowerment Program, Memphis, Tennessee
- Breakthrough Central Texas, Austin, Texas
- YWCA San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
- C5 Texas, Dallas, Texas
Bookmark this page to check for the 2024 competition, opening in late 2023.
Aim High is part of the New York Life Foundation's ongoing investment in middle school OST programs to help eighth graders reach ninth grade on time and prepared to succeed in high school. Research shows that for disadvantaged students, more learning time in the form of high-quality afterschool, expanded-day, and summer programs leads to greater achievement, better school attendance, and more engaged students. To learn more about the New York Life Foundation, or the Aim High grant, visit www.newyorklifefoundation.org, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Congratulations to the 2017 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award winner, Columbus State Community College's ESL Afterschool Communities!
We are proud to announce that this year’s Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award winner is Columbus State Community College’s ESL Afterschool Communities (ESLAsC)! Thanks to the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Ohio program is the recipient of the $10,000 award and is featured in a Dollar General afterschool literacy issue brief, Afterschool Providing Key Literacy Supports to English Language Learner Students.
About the winner
With a student population comprised of 100 percent English language learners, 99 percent of whom live in low-income families, the program stood out from more than a hundred nominations for its wraparound approach to supporting both students and families. In addition to individualized instruction and a diverse set of literacy activities for their students, ESLAsC performs home visits, provides social service referrals, and offers translation services to the families in their program.
Originally the idea for ESLAsC came from parents and community members who attend the community college’s basic English classes and expressed a need for similar programming for their children. Since 2002, the program has grown to serve four schools and one community center. It remains a central part of the communities it serves, performing a six- to nine-month community needs assessment before opening their doors and gaining the support and buy-in of school-day staff, community-based organizations, parents, and community members at the outset.
The program was recognized at the Afterschool Alliance’s annual Afterschool for All Challenge.
Learn more about ESLAsC in their Afterschool Spotlight, as well as five additional programs featured in the issue brief:
Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award Winners
The New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program, located in Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded the first-ever Dollar General Literacy Foundation and Afterschool Alliance joint Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award in 2015. Bright Futures focuses on ensuring that Atlanta’s refugee students are academically prepared to enter high school—providing targeted one-on-one support to students who are at the highest risk of falling behind academically, as well as offering a host of support services to families, including helping students’ parents understand and navigate a school system that is new to them.
The program was recognized at the National AfterSchool Association annual convention and Afterschool Alliance Afterschool for All Challenge. Bright Futures’ education and youth manager Peter Epstein, middle school youth coordinator Mary Kathryn Tippett, eighth grader Bishal Mager and sixth grader Paler Mar accepted the award on behalf of the program.
Located in Corbin, Kentucky, 2016 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award winner Redhound Enrichment stood out among more than 150 nominated programs for its excellence in providing literacy support to its K-12 students during the school year and into the summer. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation presented the award to Redhound Enrichment’s executive director, Karen West, at the National AfterSchool Association’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida. West shared that the program will use the $10,000 award to provide professional development and literacy instruction for its staff.
Learn more about Redhound Enrichment, as well as other programs offering literacy-related programming to help students build on school-day lessons and take advantage of the summer months, in the Dollar General afterschool literacy issue brief, Taking a Year-Round Approach to Literacy.
From 2007 through 2014, the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation worked together on the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards to raise awareness about the innovative and exemplary work taking place in afterschool programs around the country. During the course of the awards’ six rounds, close to 100 afterschool programs in 30 states were featured in MetLife Foundation issue briefs, and the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award was presented to 31 afterschool programs. In all, the Afterschool Alliance and the MetLife Foundation awarded approximately a quarter-million dollars in total awards.
The MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards were able to shine a light on the myriad of ways afterschool programs support their students, families and communities, addressing topics from keeping kids safe and supported in the hours after school to fostering parent engagement to helping students become more involved in their community. More than 20 MetLife Foundation issue briefs and half a dozen compendium pieces were written to delve into the critical issues facing children, schools and communities and the vital role afterschool programs play to address these issues.
In its final year, the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners were honored at the “Breakfast of Champions”—a gala event in Washington, D.C., which is a part of the Afterschool for All Challenge. Hundreds of educators, parents, afterschool leaders and advocates from across the U.S. attended the event where the winners were each presented with a $10,000 check from the MetLife Foundation. Learn more about the award winning programs in the MetLife Foundation issue briefs and compendiums.
MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award Winners
From 2007 through 2014, the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation worked together on the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards to raise awareness about the innovative and exemplary work taking place in afterschool programs around the country. We continue to be inspired by these past winners who have made so many important contributions to the field over the years.
2014/2013: AS220 Youth (Providence, RI); Hope Street Family Center—Youth Center (Los Angeles, CA); The Baltimore Urban Debate League (Baltimore, MD); Big Thought’s Thriving Minds After-School program (Dallas, TX); BUILD, Inc. (Chicago, IL)
2012: Green Energy Technologies in the City (GET City) (Lansing, MI); The Wooden Floor (Santa Ana, CA); Latino Arts Strings & Mariachi Juvenil Program (Milwaukee, WI); Kid Power, Inc.-The VeggieTime Project, (Washington, D.C.); and Parma Learning Center (Parma, ID).
2011: Kids Rethink New Orleans (New Orleans, LA); Higher Achievement (Washington, D.C.); Urban Arts/Project Phoenix (Oakland, CA); 21st Century PASOS (Gettysburg, PA); and America SCORES (Chicago, IL).
2010: Cypress Hills/East New York (CHENY) Beacon Program (Brooklyn, NY); Junior ACE (Sacramento, CA); Learning through an Expanded Arts Program - LeAp 22 (Bronx, NY); San Antonio Youth Centers (San Antonio, TX); Science Club for Girls and C.E.L.L.S. - Career Exploration, Leadership and Life Skills (Cambridge, MA); and The Bridge Project (Denver, CO).
2009: Colorado MESA (Denver, CO); the Student Success Jobs Program (Boston, MA); Arizona ICAN (Chandler, AZ); the RiverzEdge Arts Project (Woonsocket, RI); Challenging Horizons Program (Columbia, SC); and the Ann Arbor Teen Center’s Neutral Zone (Ann Arbor, MI).
2008: LA’s BEST (Los Angeles, CA); Lincoln Community Learning Centers (Lincoln, NE); Native Youth Club (Sioux Falls, SD); and The After-School Corporation (New York, NY).
STEM Impact Award
In Spring 2013, the Afterschool Alliance and the Noyce Foundation invited applications for two $10,000 Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. As afterschool STEM programming grows around the nation, we wanted to recognize programs that are clearly demonstrating an impact on participants. Such programs highlight the power of afterschool programs as key partners in STEM education reform and also serve as best-practice models. We received almost 200 applications across the two award categories:
- Partnerships with STEM-rich institutions – highlighting partnerships between an afterschool provider and a science center, museum, nature center, university, government lab or STEM business.
WINNER: Science Club, a partnership led by Northwestern University with the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago and teachers from Chicago Public Schools.
- Engineering and/or computing content focus – highlighting afterschool programs that focus on the engineering design process to develop a solution to a problem, and afterschool programs that focus on technology creation like coding, programming mobile apps or games, etc.
WINNER: Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), a computer science afterschool program where middle school students use computer programming to solve complex, real-world issues.
It was a tough decision to choose just two winners from among so many excellent programs! The Afterschool Alliance promoted Science Club and Project GUTS nationally through a variety of opportunities. Both programs hosted their own Lights On Afterschool events and were featured in a special series of issue briefs, participated in webinars, co-presented at national and state conferences, and were continuously highlighted as model programs.