A new program targeting at-risk youth is making a difference in the lives of almost 100 high school students, according to a report from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.
The AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, program was implemented at Logan and Central high schools last year, serving ninth and 10th grade students. The program helps students by providing encouragement and academic preparation for college. Students also learn good studying, collaboration and communication skills through the program, which will expand into 11th grade this school year.
Among the foundation’s findings of the first year of the program:
- AVID students were more likely to be students of color and students from low-income families. At Central, 44 percent were students of color and at Logan, 60 percent were non-white. Two out of three AVID students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.
- At each high school, the average GPA for AVID students was 3.2 compared with an average for all students of 2.9.
- Attendance rates for AVID students averaged above 96 percent.
“The most challenging part of the implementation was increasing the expectation and rigor for students who have never been expected to learn at high levels,” said Central Principal Jeff Fleig, who also serves as the district’s AVID director. “The students struggled with this expectation, but by the end of the year they were beginning to see the benefits, and, more importantly, they were starting to believe in themselves.”
Start-up costs for the program are being covered through a $225,000 fundraising campaign led by the foundation. Of the total, $125,000 has been covered through a three-year grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation of St. Paul.
Festival Foods is among local businesses and organizations contributing to the AVID fundraising campaign. The La Crosse Community Foundation kicked off local fundraising last August with a $30,000 gift, and The Franke Foundation has provided a challenge grant, pledging a gift of $25,000 if the public education foundation raises $45,000 from additional community sources.
Other local contributors thus far include Dairyland Power Cooperative, Fowler & Hammer Fund, Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, the Rotary Works Foundation, the Russell and Vera Smith Foundation, and State Bank Financial.
More information about the program can be found at the foundation website: lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.