Project Ready

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What is Project Ready?

Project Ready - a Signature Program of the National Urban League – is a set of evidence-based standards plus practical tools specially designed for and unique to the UL movement, for the purpose of getting African American and other urban youth ready for college, work and life.  It helps 8th-12th grade students make academic progress, benefit from cultural enrichment opportunities and develop important skills, attitudes and aptitudes that will aid in their transition from high school and position them for post-secondary success. Participants receive academic, social and cultural supports and opportunities designed to develop “readiness”: having the information and perspective necessary for success without needing remediation in college or career.

Urban League affiliates have successfully adopted Project Ready by using one of the following models:

School-Based: supporting college access programming within K-12 public schools. Programming takes place on school grounds with an explicit partnership with school administration and faculty, either during the school day or during out of school time.
Magnet: supporting students at a site other than a school, during out of school time.
Hybrid: combining the magnet and school-based models.

All Project Ready programs must follow the educational and youth development principles set forth in NUL’s Youth Development Framework and Guide, including the use of Planning and Activity Templates, designed to encourage intentional programming.  All must use (in some way) the Project Ready 2.0 Curriculum, a publication with assessments and lesson plans in three components: Academic Achievement; Social Development; College Culture and Awareness.  All must engage youth participants in at least two college visits and at least 20 hours of service learning. Programs following this basic outline are called Project Ready: Post-Secondary Success. 
In addition, Project Ready offers several optional enhancements, such as a focus on literacy, a special approach for middle-school students, and a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

What are the Enhancements to Project Ready?

Project ReadySTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
With the support of Best Buy, BP, and State Farm and Verizon, in 2013, the National Urban League is supporting 10 Project Ready STEM sites. The sites are successfully operating STEM programs for nearly 300 middle or high students, with the goals of ensuring that urban students have the necessary supports and opportunities available to them to succeed in STEM-related class work, and exposing students to STEM-related careers.

Project Ready Service Learning

State Farm supports the National Urban League Project Ready Service Learning enhancement. These programs provide meaningful service activities that benefit both participants and their communities, fostering life skills, critical thinking, a sense of efficacy and self-worth, and responsible attitudes and behaviors. Service learning is one of several approaches to civic engagement of youth, distinguished by its curriculum-base and explicit educational goals.  The National Urban League views this as an important addition to our post-secondary success agenda, as it allows youth to develop additional skills, build youth leadership and voice, exposes youth to important social, political and community issues, and better prepares them to be more active and thoughtful citizens. This year 8 Project Ready sites developed and submitted impactful Public Service Announcements (PSA) focused on Teen Driver Safety. 

Cultural & Historical Literacy

The National Urban League, in partnership with Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, was pleased to present the following opportunity to Urban League Project Ready affiliates that we believe has the potential to engage middle- and high-school aged youth both locally and nationally. 23 Urban League affiliates have committed to working on this project.  The focus will be on the Great Migration and Birth of the National Urban League.  We anticipate providing training at the 2013 Whitney M. Young Leadership Conference

Project Ready Literacy Coaches

Viewed as a whole, the statistics relating to adolescent literacy are disturbing and should serve as a “call to action” for educators in all capacities who work with adolescents. The Project Ready curriculum, with its focus on college readiness, serves as a valuable weapon in the fight to improve adolescent literacy. With the support of the Pitney Bowes Corporation, the National Urban League has completed the launch of the Project Ready Literacy Coach pilot. Every Urban League affiliate interested in integrating literacy into their out-of-school time and youth development practices has access to the Project Ready Literacy Coaches Manual, which features resources, activities and strategies that have been researched, developed, and tested by the National Urban League’s adolescent literacy specialist. Building on the premises of providing the affiliate network with the necessary tools to effectively provide youth programs the Literacy Coach Manual will support Literacy development and will serve as an enhancement to the Project Ready 2.0 Curriculum.

Where can I find Project Ready?

In 2013 NUL supports full range of education and youth development services to many of the Urban League affiliates across the country, with a particular focus on the 35 Project Ready sites serving over 2500 students.  The Project Ready affiliate sites operate a range of program models, from the full Project Ready: Post-Secondary Success model, to Project Ready enhancements – STEM; Service Learning; Literacy Coach; and Mentoring.

Click here to find affiliates with Project Ready

How big is Project Ready?

Project Ready involves nearly 2,500 students nationwide.  Since 2006, over 7,000 young people have participated in Project Ready in their local communities.

What have Project Ready participants achieved?

The National Urban League has measured student success across a number of dimensions. For example:

  • In December 2012, NUL surveyed 225 high-school and middle-school youth who were enrolled in Project Ready: Post-Secondary Success in five cities. The youth who responded to the survey revealed themselves to be deeply college-oriented and future-oriented, and to have made significant progress in their academic, leadership and life skills.
    • 93% of respondents said they learned what it takes to succeed in college,
    • 92%  said they learned how to apply to college,
    • 81% said they did activities to get ready for college, and 75% said they did college tours.
    • 90% said they learned about a career that interests them
    • 83% said the program helped them get a better job (or be more ready for a job).
    • 97% said they learned what it takes to be a leader,
    • 90% said the program helped them get along with people better,
    • 86% said it helped them learned to manage their time more effectively.
  • In mid-2012, pre/post-test comparisons of 178 girls and students of color participating in Project Ready: STEM at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga showed that the portion who were interested in pursuing a STEM career increased from 39% to 59%.
  • At the end of the school year in mid-2011, Urban League affiliates reported that at least 96% of their participating youth would be promoted to the next grade or were accepted into a two- or four-year college. This is an impressive result, considering that 46% of these students were enrolled in the free or reduced school lunch program, and that, on average nationally, less than 86% of students graduate at schools where 35%-49% of students are eligible for free or reduced school lunch.  (Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), "Public School, BIE School, and Private School Data Files," 2007–08)

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