In the summer of 2020, after researching other successful high school programs in the Horizons affiliate network, we made a bold decision to revamp our high school program and transition from a six-week summer program (like our Pre-K – 8th grade) and move to a one-on-one mentorship program, plus a one-week summer boot camp. It turned out to be a great time to do this switch because most interactions were virtual due to the pandemic, and our mentors (most of whom were Horizons at Colorado Academy alumni) were all around the country. In addition, our high school students were in need of more year-round support, especially during the pandemic, when they were isolated from one another and the outside world; our mentors helped our students overcome those challenging times.
Here is what some of our students are saying about their experiences with the program:
Q: What has been your favorite part of the mentorship program so far?
A: “Being able to have a second push and having someone to keep me accountable and help me be a better version of myself,” Current Horizons Sophomore
Q: Please describe your relationship with your mentor.
A: “The relationship that I have with my mentor has been AMAZING! I feel completely comfortable talking about my school and home life with my mentor and have felt like I’ve received so much help during my time working with her.” Current Horizons Sophomore
New incentives for Horizons high schoolers
Now, two years later, with the help of our Executive Board, Executive Board Co-Chairs Catherine Rollhaus and Julie Martin, our mentors, and our Program Director, Ruth Castillo, we have crafted specific guidelines for our high school students to follow and have increased the amount of scholarship aid available to our students. In the past, Horizons students who had completed Horizons in eighth grade, regardless of whether or not they continued on into our high school program, were awarded a $1,000 scholarship if they pursued higher education. With our updated program, students need to complete certain milestones, and if they stick with the high school mentorship program, they will be eligible for a scholarship of up to $2,500.
What is even more exciting is that we have just partnered with Prosperity Denver, a ballot initiative that was passed by the voters in 2018 that distributes reimbursements to nonprofits providing scholarships to students who attend higher education institutions in Colorado. This support will help us with our budgeting, especially since we are projecting approximately 26 students potentially receiving scholarships from now until 2025.
Needless to say, we are very excited about these developments and strongly believe that more of our Horizons students will have an incentive to stay with the program that helps them plan for their future after high school.