Project BOOST (Building Options and Opportunities for Students) is a program targeted at late elementary and middle school students who have demonstrated academic talent but come from disadvantaged neighborhoods where they do not have the opportunity to develop their talent. Project BOOST’s main goal is to help participating students gain admission to quality high schools upon completion of the project (eighth grade). “Quality high school” is defined as competitive and specialized high schools, including local educational option schools and private schools, as well as independent schools (both commuter and residential) and parochial schools.
To accomplish this goal, Project BOOST schools provide students with academic and cultural enrichment experiences, test prep services, academic guidance, and community service opportunities. Many of these program activities are based on in-kind programmatic services that CEI-PEA secured for the schools. Among the major in-kind programs are:
- Botanical Gardens Junior Intern Explainer Program
- Chess in Schools
- New York Hall of Science
- Hayden Astrophysics Program at the American Museum of Natural History
- Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation
- Summer Search
In the first five years of its operation, Project BOOST has successfully graduated all of the eighth graders into quality high schools, including Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, Beacon High School, CUNY High School for Engineering, LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts, Manhattan Center for Math and Science, as well as preparatory schools outside of the city. Several students have received in excess of $26,000 per year to attend boarding preparatory schools.
Currently, Project BOOST includes 60 elementary and middle schools that are matched based on “feeder” patterns (i.e. elementary schools are matched with the middle schools into which a majority of their students matriculate). All of the participating schools serve low-income students from diverse communities. In total, Project BOOST is currently serving more than 700 students in grades four through eight. The program has a 0% drop-out rate.
There are several aspects of Project BOOST that distinguish it from other enrichment programs:
- Project BOOST admits students with a range of skills and talents. Whereas many other enrichment programs accept only the “best and the brightest,” Project BOOST admits students with mid-range test scores who demonstrate commitment to success.
- Project BOOST admits students with mid-range test scores who demonstrate commitment to success. A majority of students in Project BOOST score at levels 3 or high 2 on standardized tests—score levels that would normally keep them out of contention for quality high schools. Through Project BOOST, we help these students move up in performance levels and build the additional assets necessary to help them stand out in the high school admissions process.
- Services are integrated into the school day. Project BOOST is designed to serve as an extension of the school day. CEI-PEA field personnel serve as intermediaries between the schools and the enrichment program providers in order to ensure that this connection happens.
- The CEI-PEA School Network serves as the vehicle for implementation. Program quality is ensured by implementing enrichment programs in a school-based model where every school is supported by a network of other quality schools.
- CEI-PEA field personnel provide on-site assistance and guidance. Schools participating in Project BOOST work with members of our field staff who come to the school site to work with them. This field operations model ensures consistency in program delivery across school sites, helps individual schools address emerging issues, and allows us to quickly make course corrections, when necessary.
- The program fosters cross-grade collaboration. One of the problems that faces children in the New York City public school system is that elementary, middle and high schools often do not communicate, let alone collaborate, in the education of children. Project BOOST fosters cross-grade collaboration through its “feeder pattern” model that pairs elementary and middle schools together to serve cohorts of students as they progress from the fourth through the eighth grades. This collaboration helps create alliances that extend beyond implementation of Project BOOST. It helps them address such issues as providing continuity in instruction from the elementary to middle school.
The experiences that students gain in these programs are often life-altering for them in many ways. The CEI-PEA field personnel regularly meet with the students to gain their feedback and input into the programs. Among the aspects of the programs that students remark on are the unique experiences that they feel are otherwise beyond their reach, the value of gaining one-on-one mentoring and guidance, a sense of increased self-esteem, gaining positive values, and a recognition of the importance of academic commitment and achievement.
For more information about Project BOOST, please contact Carl Vinci.