K-College Curriculum and Programs
Student success occurs both in and outside the classroom. These initiatives are designed to advance the development of student scholars.
Project Optimism Mentorship Sessions (POMS) is designed to improve accessibility to positive role models for historically underserved youth. POMS aligns youth with mentors who are reflective of their demographics for either a semester or year long. Students will be placed in groups with a PO mentor (Ratio 1:3 or 1:5) to foster peer engagement and collaboration. Participants will attend workshops that will focus on strengthening students’ leadership skills, academic progress & civic engagement.
Sankofa Project is designed to pair middle school or high school youth with college students, recent college graduates, and young professionals (ratio = 1:1) based on gender identity and personal interest. The name “Sankofa” is Swahili for “go back and get it.” The program places emphasis on mentors to focus on giving their lessons from lived experience to the younger generation. Youth who experience this program will have access to role models they identify with by attending bi-weekly mixers.
The Niara Academy is an enrichment program developed for high school and college students. The name “Niara” is Swahili for “one with high purpose.” Project Optimism understands the need for historically underserved students to not only have extracurricular outlets, but to engage in personal reflection and developmental training. This eight-week program incorporates elements of the Social Change Model of Leadership, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Chickering’s Seven Vectors Theory.
High school aged youth are provided the basic knowledge and skills necessary to successfully transition to adulthood. This program incorporates a combination of workshops, guest speakers, field trips and hands on learning activities to build students confidence and preparedness.
High School youth are placed as interns in various organizations depending on their career interest. Opportunities include the nonprofit sector, small businesses, large corporations, and government agencies. Students will receive professional development training prior to placement and weekly career exploration coaching and training during the assignment as an intern.