Higher Achievement History
Higher Achievement was founded in 1975 by Greg Gannon, a teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. Gannon believed the program would address a serious and underappreciated community problem: the gap in opportunity between his Gonzaga students and the youth in the housing project across the street from the school. He founded Higher Achievement to create learning opportunities for underserved youth — so they could have equal access to success, both in school and beyond.
Higher Achievement incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1985. In 1999, it reorganized as an outcomes-based model for high-level academic achievement during out-of-school time.
In 2006, with grants from Atlantic Philanthropies, the Jack Kent Cooke and the William T. Grant foundations, Higher Achievement launched the first longitudinal, randomized study of an out-of-school time program. Results from the study prompted additional investments in Higher Achievement’s expansion. In 2009, Higher Achievement opened achievement centers in Baltimore, MD, followed by centers in Richmond, VA, in 2011 and Pittsburgh, PA, in 2012.
Over the past 35 years, Higher Achievement has worked with more than 10,000 youth in the DC Metro area. On average, 95 percent of Higher Achievement scholars advance to top academic high schools and 93 percent go on to college. Scholars who complete the program, on average, improve their GPAs at least one letter, graduate with a B average, show improved attendance, and demonstrate improved attitudes and behaviors toward their peers, adults, and their own learning. The organization has received extraordinary national and local recognition for its work.
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