Foundations of Leadership

African American girl raising her hand in a classroomAt Achievement First, the expectation of college graduation is just the first step.

Beyond instilling students with a sense of what is possible through our powerful, college-going culture, our teaching staff and college counselors work to equip each and every student with the skills, self-knowledge and extensive preparation required to bridge the gap between the expectation of college and what it takes to make it a reality. Given that 85 percent of our students will be the first in their families to attend college, we have the profound responsibility to prepare them to understand and meet admissions requirements and to learn the skills required to navigate the complex application and enrollment process.

To meet this pressing need, Achievement First requires four years of completed coursework in our Foundations of Leadership class—the class in which students acquire the tools and information to take control of their academic futures. By incorporating college readiness into the daily schedule, our high schools amplify their college-going cultures and unwavering commitment to 100 percent college acceptance and enrollment.

Closely aligned with the college application process, course curriculum for Foundations of Leadership progresses through a sequence that develops along with our students as they move through their high school careers.

Female white teacher helping African American male student in classroom

In 9th and 10th grades, the class meets two days per week with a focus on academic performance and academic awareness. During these early years of high school, the class supports students through the pivotal transition from middle school to high school. Foundations of Leadership helps our students understand the relationship between a rigorous high school experience and college persistence. It also helps them take ownership of their academic futures and learn to communicate professionally with teachers and other adults with whom they are trying to develop relationships—from emails and phone calls to interviews and impromptu encounters. In 11th grade, the focus shifts to time management, building preliminary college lists and extensive SAT preparation. By 12th grade, the class meets four times per week and guides students through every academic and financial step of the application process, including writing personal statements, requesting recommendations, compiling supplemental materials and comparing financial aid packages. In the spring semester, once students have selected the colleges they will attend, college readiness shifts to a transitions class to ensure that students are academically, financially and socially prepared for what they will encounter on campus.