The mission of the program is to ensure a quality public school education for all at-risk children in economically disadvantaged communities so that high school graduation rates increase; graduates are closing the achievement gap and preparing to enter and be successful in college.
Project GRAD believes that every student, regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic background, not only deserves to, but should graduate from high school and have access to college. Because of this fundamental belief in the equality of expectations for every at-risk child, Project GRAD sets what might be considered by some to be lofty goals. Yet, Project GRAD’s goals are the standard for the average student who attends a school in a higher socio-economic neighborhood.
History of Project GRAD Akron
Project GRAD Akron (PGA), a non-profit educational reform program, began in the Akron Public Schools in 2002, under the leadership of now retired Superintendent Dr. Sylvester Small and many corporate, community, and business leaders. In 2001, Dr. Small and a team of individuals (including Theresa Carter, Vivian Celeste Neal, and Oscar Williams) went to Houston, Texas to gather additional information about Project GRAD. Later, a non-profit organization was established and members of the Board of Directors were selected and Vivian Celeste Neal became the first Board Chairperson. The initial schools were Buchtel High School, Perkins Middle School, Crouse Elementary School, Erie Island Elementary School, Rankin Elementary School, and Schumacher Elementary School. Mr. Joseph Coleman was selected as the organizing Director of the organization. The organization's first Executive Director was Flora Novella Randall Dees, Ed.D., who served from 2002 to 2006. Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Esq., has served as Executive Director since July 31, 2006.
Project GRAD Akron’s mission is to increase the high school and college graduation rates of the more than 2,000 students in the Buchtel Cluster of the Akron Public Schools.
The current Project GRAD Akron’s schools are Buchtel Community Learning Center, Crouse Community Learning Center, and Schumacher Community Learning Center. Our organization provides professional teacher development through workshops and one-on-one coaching techniques; training and academic, counseling, college awareness and readiness; and scholarship support for students and their families. In addition to providing resources to increase the graduation rates of the students, Project GRAD provides a $4,000.00 (payable $1,000.00 yearly) scholarship for college to each graduating senior who successfully fulfills the rigorous Project GRAD Akron Learning Contract. Since 2006, Project GRAD Akron has awarded more than One Million Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,300,000.00) in scholarships to Buchtel High School graduating seniors.
Flora Randall Dees, Ed.D. Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Esq.
2002 - 2006 2006 - Present
Project GRAD’s components include: Mathematics, Literacy, Classroom Management and Discipline, Social Services, College Readiness and Scholarship. We also offer:
· Literacy Activities – Kindergarten through fifth grades
· Math activities – Kindergarten through eighth grades
· Summer College Institutes for high school students in collaboration with The University of Akron
· Bridge to Kindergarten – Kindergarten student and parent activities throughout the year in
collaboration with Kent State University
· OGT, ACT and EXPLORE Preparation for secondary students
· College and Career Counseling
· Tutoring, 9th- 12thgrade
· Kids 2 College Program – 5thand 6thgrades
· Bridge to GRADuation – 8thgrade
· Bridge to College – graduates
· Parent Activities – all grades
· College Activities and Visits – secondary students
· Scholarships – Graduating seniors and college students
· Small group social skills – elementary students
· Cultural field trips – secondary students
· Service Learning and Volunteer opportunities for students and community partners
· Professional development and coaching - teachers
· A host of additional educational, cultural, and social programs and activities