Academic Enrichment Program

ACT-SO is an attempt to thwart the vicious cycle of low expectation and low scholastic achievement that is plaguing communities throughout the nation. The Harrisburg ACT-SO is one of the most ambitious after schools programs in the country. It offers a year long, after academic enrichment program that includes weekly coaching workshops along with very successful After-School programs established in several Harrisburg High Schools. The Program annually involves over 100 youth of African-American and Latino descent from public, private and parochial schools throughout metropolitan Harrisburg.Enrichment Workshops are the core of the program, offering time each week for a student to make an investment in his/her own academic or artistic success. With the help of their coach/mentor, who is an accomplished professional, students choose an individual project. The coach serves as a role model, critic and mentor for his or her students as they develop their projects. This relationship becomes one of the most important rewards for the time and energy a student puts into the program.

As participants prepare in up to three of 32 categories after school during the school year, they are also exposed to a variety of life skill topics. Harrisburg area high school students of under-served minority communities are at-risk of dropping out or failing to graduate from high school, and confront a future of negative behaviors and practices without the tools, skills and education necessary to become productive members of society. HARRISBURG ACT-SO scholars, by contrast, participate in culturally sensitive, rigorous training in critical thinking, academic research and presentation skills.

All of our students have the opportunity to present their projects for ongoing feedback and evaluation at Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writer’s Workshop on the first Friday of each month.

ACTSO has also conducted a coaching and enrichment pilot program where Elizabethtown College students earn credit for assisting high school students with their ACTSO projects.

Harrisburg ACT-SO has made a difference by providing a positive environment for African-American and Latino youth. The impact is evident among the former participants in the form of their achievements, enthusiasm, increased confidence and vision for success. A review of past Harrisburg ACT-SO activities indicates that approximately 100 percent of all participants completed high school, and approximately 90 percent of all local medalists entered college while the others pursued vocational careers. This is in contrast to the Harrisburg Department of Education statistics which reports a high school graduation rate of under 50 percent for African-American and Latino youth.

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