DESCRIPTIONS OF PRINCIPLES
1. Emphasizing long-term engagement – A commitment to creating small, purposeful learning communities and designing a multi-year, “step-ladder” program delivery system that works with students during middle school and follows them to and through high school graduation. This long-term commitment to relationship building allows for the time and space needed to adapt to the ever-changing developmental needs and interests of adolescents.
2. Developing a network of caring adults and peer mentors – A focus on recruiting and training caring adult volunteers and cross-age mentors (young leaders) to play a critical role in meeting the relational needs of local youth growing up in their community.
3. Applying a comprehensive approach – A dedication to building targeted holistic youth development methods into the overall program design to help young people find success and navigate challenges during adolescence by focusing on proven promotion, prevention and intervention strategies.
4. Creating community support – A practice of assembling support networks for young people by partnering with parents, schools, key stake holders, health services and other youth advocate agencies with the goal of building high-level supports to assist in meeting the academic and non-academic needs of students.
5. Prioritizing informal relationship – A commitment to “showing up” and being present in the lives of young people outside of regular scheduled programming. By designing outreach in the community into the overall program delivery model, staff and caring adult mentors can build even stronger relationships with mentees and maintain relational links to students even when core programs are not in session.
6. Expanding worldviews – A priority for introducing students – through outdoor, experiential and travel-based educational opportunities – to the diversity of people, cultures, places and natural resources that exist outside the reach of their everyday lives.
7. Embracing student voice & choice – A willingness to share power and give young people input into the overall educational process.
8. Encouraging civic responsibility – A desire to incorporate service into curriculum design and a commitment to enhance civil discourse.
9. Preparing for success – A focus on increasing opportunities for youth to identify, explore and cultivate their future aspirations – whether those aspirations include immediate entry into the workforce or ambitions for college – through hands-on experiences.
10. Utilizing validated assessment tools – An emphasis on collecting social-emotional development and resiliency data as a way to inform individual intervention strategies and influence programming – all with the intention of better detecting barriers to academic achievement in students at an early age.