7 Organizations Helping Underserved Students To Thrive

All students deserve a chance to succeed, but some start out with more advantages than others. Children who come from families that can afford tutoring and have free time to help with homework and school assignments can get a leg up over kids from less wealthy families whose parents or guardians have to work longer hours to keep food on the table. Luckily, organizations like the ones listed here are dedicated to making sure that students from all backgrounds are able to get a full, well-rounded education. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Groups That Help Students Succeed

Organization Headquarters Location Mission
Spark Chicago, IL Engage communities to provide career exploration and self-discovery opportunities that help middle school students understand, experience, and pursue what’s possible
College Track Oakland, CA Empower all students to develop the belief that they have the ability, and responsibility, to influence their own destiny
Exploring the Arts Astoria, New York Transform the lives of young people through arts education
Writers in the Schools Houston, TX Engage children in the joy and power of reading and writing
Technovation Los Angeles, CA Empower girls and families to become leaders, creators, and problem-solvers
College Crusade of Rhode Island Providence, RI Prepare and inspire young people in Rhode Island to become the first in their families to attend and complete college
Global Kids New York, NY Educate, activate, and inspire youth from underserved communities to take action on critical issues facing our world

The Four Types Of Learners

  1. Visual: Prefer to look at information and visualize concepts
  2. Auditory: Prefer to listen to information
  3. Reading/Writing: Prefer to absorb information through text
  4. Kinesthetic: Prefer to learn through hands-on experiments

High School Graduations Rates By State

As of the 2016-17 school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics

State Graduation Rate State Graduation Rate
Alabama 89.3% Montana 85.8%
Alaska 78.2% Nebraska 89.1%
Arizona 78.0% Nevada 80.9%
Arkansas 88.0% New Hampshire 88.9%
California 82.7% New Jersey 90.5%
Colorado 79.1% New Mexico 71.1%
Connecticut 87.9% New York 81.8%
Delaware 86.9% North Carolina 86.6%
Florida 82.3% North Dakota 87.2%
Georgia 80.6% Ohio 84.2%
Hawaii 82.7% Oklahoma 82.6%
Idaho 79.7% Oregon 76.7%
Illinois 87.0% Pennsylvania 86.6%
Indiana 83.8% Rhode Island 84.1%
Iowa 91.0% South Carolina 83.6%
Kansas 86.5% South Dakota 83.7%
Kentucky 89.7% Tennessee 89.8%
Louisiana 78.1% Texas 89.7%
Maine 86.9% Utah 86.0%
Maryland 87.7% Vermont 89.1%
Massachusetts 88.3% Virginia 86.9%
Michigan 80.2% Washington 79.4%
Minnesota 82.7% West Virginia 89.4%
Mississippi 83.0% Wisconsin 88.6%
Missouri 88.3% Wyoming 86.2%

The Boost Students Need To Overcome Obstacles

In Depth

A good education is one of the cornerstones of any prosperous society, and the lessons we learn at a young age often shape who we become as we grow older. Sometimes, however, local schools struggle to meet the diverse needs of their students, and outside help is required. If you are interested in discovering more about these groups working to supplement classroom learning, then here are, in no particular order, seven organizations helping underserved students thrive.

At #1 is Spark, founded in 2004 in the Bay Area by Chris Balme and Melia Dicker. Aimed at students in middle school, today Spark operates across the United States, with locations in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The organization's mission is to help children in the middle grades tap into their interests and ambitions through its unique Career Exploration program. Since its founding, nearly 10,000 students and 10,000 mentors have connected through "The Possibility Movement."

Through its three main areas of exploration, immersion, and transition, The Possibility Movement equips young people with social-emotional skills, social capital tools, and inspiration for future education. The Spark Lab exposes seventh graders to workshops that connect students' interests to potential careers, while Spark Mentorship links students with professionals for ten to thirteen weeks involving hands-on and project-based learning. If you are interested in supporting this nonprofit, you can donate directly or become an official member of The Possibility Movement.

The Spark Lab exposes seventh graders to workshops that connect students' interests to potential careers, while Spark Mentorship links students with professionals for ten to thirteen weeks involving hands-on and project-based learning.

Coming in at #2 is College Track. Based in Oakland, California, College Track uses a holistic model to close the national college completion gap in communities across the country. With a focus on long-term success, the nonprofit and its ninth-grade clients make a ten-year promise to reach college graduation. Providing an array of services, from SAT prep to need-based scholarships like the DOOR Award, College Track assists students every step of the way.

Those who participate in College Track enjoy a college graduation rate that is two times higher than the national rate for low-income and first-generation students. Beyond helping students in full-time education, the organization also maintains contact with its graduates, offering a thriving Alumni Network that shares information on jobs, training opportunities, and events. If you want to support College Track, you can make a donation or explore volunteer roles online.

In the #3 spot is Exploring the Arts, founded in 1999 by the singer Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto. Active in New York City and Los Angeles, the nonprofit seeks to transform the lives of young people through arts education. Since its initial work with the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, ETA has expanded to reach forty-six schools on both coasts.

Active in New York City and Los Angeles, the nonprofit seeks to transform the lives of young people through arts education.

By collaborating with schools in underserved areas, ETA makes a four-year commitment to its partners, promising to improve their school-day arts programs and their extracurricular offerings by providing funding and technical assistance. ETA also runs an Arts Internship Program for eleventh and twelfth graders, which places them in paid positions with mentors, and the Lang Arts Scholars program, which provides fully-funded, intensive training for young people in the performing arts. Those who want to lend their support to the nonprofit can sign up for its e-newsletter or donate through its website.

At #4 is Writers in the Schools, founded in 1983 by Phillip Lopate and Marv Hoffman. Working across Houston, WITS teaches students the craft of writing by pairing them with educators and professional writers. With over 65,000 students participating annually, WITS seeks to revolutionize the teaching of reading and writing through a variety of initiatives in the classroom, primarily facilitating workshops taught by professional authors.

Beyond its classroom instruction, the nonprofit hosts a variety of programs that promote literacy in Houston. WITS Community, for instance, runs free workshops for children at the Discovery Green Park, while its Summer Writing Camp, in partnership with Rice University and University of Houston-Downtown, allows young people to explore their creativity outside of school. Those who wish to support the organization can contribute to its Annual Fund, start their own Facebook fundraiser, or attend its annual gala.

Beyond its classroom instruction, the nonprofit hosts a variety of programs that promote literacy in Houston.

Coming in at #5 is Technovation, founded in 2006 in Los Angeles and originally called Iridescent. With a commitment to women and people of color in particular, Technovation empowers underrepresented young people by teaching them about engineering and technology. The global tech education nonprofit strives to inspire girls and families and help them develop their leadership, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

Technovation's three-part model aims to foster self-efficacy within young girls while also changing their perceptions of STEM subjects. By identifying real-world problems, building a team, and promoting community involvement, the organization prizes collaboration in its approach. Since its founding, Technovation's programs on coding and artificial intelligence have reached a staggering 130,000 girls, children, and parents, who in turn have created 7,000 mobile apps and AI prototypes. If you are interested in supporting this nonprofit, you can join Technovation Families as a community partner or make a donation online.

In the #6 spot is the College Crusade of Rhode Island, a college-readiness and scholarship program for students in low-income urban school districts. With a goal of increasing high school graduation and the completion of post-secondary education, College Crusade offers a variety of resources, with middle school students benefitting from specialized educational programs, access to advisors, and career exploration and guidance; their counterparts in high school, meanwhile, can choose from electives and workshops that cover civic engagement, creative college essay writing, and SAT prep.

With a goal of increasing high school graduation and the completion of post-secondary education, College Crusade offers a variety of resources, with middle school students benefitting from specialized educational programs, access to advisors, and career exploration and guidance; their counterparts in high school, meanwhile, can choose from electives and workshops that cover civic engagement, creative college essay writing, and SAT prep.

College Crusade also maintains an active engagement with the families of its students. A series of family workshops in both English and Spanish provides useful information on topics like financial literacy, preparing for the new school year, and planning for college life. In addition, the organization awards three different types of scholarships to students who complete a certain amount of hours in the College Crusade program. Since 2001, it has granted over forty-three million dollars in scholarship money. Those who wish to help out this nonprofit can make a gift directly or arrange a workplace fundraiser through United Way.

At #7 is Global Kids. Founded in 1989 by Carole Artigiani, GK uses a combination of global education and leadership development programs to inspire young people from underserved communities. With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., the nonprofit runs a range of events, including school-day and after-school learning opportunities as well as educational summer programs. Since its founding, it has reached over 200,000 students and educators, and its participants have a 99% high school graduation rate.

Specific offerings include the Annual Youth Conference, designed for and by GK students around a particular topic of importance, and the Human Rights Activist Project, which launched in 2002 and seeks to train young people in the field of activism and magnify their voices. GK also has a vibrant performance and storytelling component, with its Undesirable Elements program giving students a chance to collaborate with guest artists in dance, music, spoken word, and theater. If you want to show your support for Global Kids, you can inquire about volunteer roles online or participate in one of its events, like its annual 5k race.