Penn State, Higher Achievement inspire youths to strive for college

August 06, 2008

Washington, D.C. — Higher Achievement has announced a newly created partnership with Penn State. For the next three years, the University has committed to host Higher Achievement scholars for an annual overnight visit designed to encourage and inspire the college-bound students. Penn State’s sponsorship is a significant investment in changing the lives of 600 motivated middle-school students. The most recent college visits to Penn State occurred Aug. 4 and included 200 Higher Achievement scholars.

"We are excited about our expanded relationship with Penn State. Taking our scholars to visit colleges while they are still in middle school is strategic," said Lynsey Wood Jeffries, executive director, DC-Metro. "It has been statistically proven that the middle school years are when students make their decisions about
their educational futures. With help from Penn State, Higher Achievement scholars will begin to picture themselves as prospective college students."

The Higher Achievement program was introduced to Penn State by Robert Marshall, department head of economics at Penn State and a member of Higher Achievement's President's Council. The College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State Outreach and the provost’s office, in partnership with other University offices, were the sponsors and hosts for the visit. Dean Susan Welch of the College of the Liberal Arts believes in the value of the experience of college visits for the scholars and the benefits to Penn State of having these young students on campus.

"By the time the scholars graduate from Higher Achievement, they have visited up to three college campuses. Most scholars will be the first in their families to attend college so helping them envision themselves as college students is important," said Welch. "And, we hope that these bright young students will also come to think of Penn State as their school of choice."

Higher Achievement first visited Penn State last year. The scholars experienced campus attractions like the Planetarium and The Matson Museum of Anthropology. They also attended sessions on college preparation and a panel discussion on college life.

"It was great to see what a college campus is like and talk with real college students about their experiences," said recent Higher Achievement graduate Dominique Jones. "I want to make sure I have the chance to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by a college education."

Higher Achievement is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing academic skills, behaviors and attitudes in academically motivated and underserved middle school children for the purpose of improving their grades and performance on standardized tests. The program also boosts school attendance and
increases educational opportunities by giving participants the tools to enroll and succeed in rigorous high school classes. Founded in 1975, Higher Achievement operates five community achievement centers and currently serves more than 400 students in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va., each year.

The organization has received numerous awards, but the most important measures of success are the results achieved by the Higher Achievement scholars. In addition to enhanced grades, test scores and attendance, 75 percent of eighth-graders from the District of Columbia Higher Achievement program were placed in the area’s top high schools during 2003-2005. Higher Achievement is a national demonstration model for academic achievement during out-of-school time and is committed to making academic excellence a valued goal in underserved communities. For more information, please visit

  • Middle-schoolers from the Washington, D.C. area learned about a shock-absorbing polymer from researcher Amy Brunner. To see more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Will Kirk

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010