Summer Programs

Girl sitting at desk in classroomWhen Raychel spent part of her summer at Brown University, she lived in a dorm, took classes in biology and nurtured her interest in medicine. But Raychel isn’t a college student. Her time on campus came before she even started her junior year at Achievement First Hartford High School.

Raychel took part in a pre-college program, one of three summer program pathways that allow AF high school students enriching, low-stakes learning experiences beyond the classroom. Our broad array of summer opportunities are crucial to our mission: they foster college persistence by pushing students beyond their comfort zones as they explore future opportunities. These experiences also make them more competitive applicants for prized college seats and scholarships. All AF high school students are required to complete summer programs after 9th, 10th and 11th grades.

African American girl with hat in mountainsThese programs also serve as a dry run for the college application process. While in pursuit of summer opportunities, our students practice résumé writing, interviewing and writing personal statements, and, through this process, they also gather information they will later need to make informed choices about colleges and majors. The impact of these programs on our students’ development is monumental; almost all of our students write about their summer program experiences on their college essays, highlighting growth and enrichment opportunities historically afforded only to their more affluent peers.

Summer programs greatly enhance our college-going culture since students don’t have to wait until the college application season in their senior year to learn how their grades and character records impact admissions decisions. For students like Raychel, who maintain a GPA above 3.0 and have strong character records at their schools, a summer program includes a several-week stay on a college campus. Every summer, AF students receive more than $500,000 in financial aid to attend programs at Yale, Skidmore and a variety of other prestigious institutions. The summer before she studied at Brown, Raychel attended a writing program at Choate Rosemary Hall that gave her a first-hand look at life away from home: she managed her money, did laundry, studied in the library and met students from countries like Venezuela.

AF aims to provide each student with the opportunity to complete at least one pre-college program, during which they learn many valuable skills.

Students in good academic and character standing—like AF Brooklyn High School student Sean—earn internships at organizations including McKinsey & Company and the American Civil Liberties Union. Sean interned for Wooster Capital Management, learning about hedge fund investing, attending project meetings and conducting a small research project. The preceding summer, he studied at Syracuse University.

Meanwhile, other students who meet basic academic and character goals take part in enrichment programs ranging from salsa to advanced visual
art. For these students, the programs offer life-changing character development opportunities. A hiking trip during a one-week enrichment program at Camp Fowler taught Nya
to work hard and gave her an uncommon experience.

AF Brooklyn High School teacher Taylor Delhagen said his students often return from their summer programs with improved attitudes and focus. “After one of my 11th graders participated in a summer program, she stood tall with that sense of confidence we know students need in order to be successful. She used to want to do her work alone, now she engages with the group,” he said.

What our high school students learn in summer programs, they carry with them far into the future.
“My daughter loved participating in Explo at Yale,” said one parent. “Instead of being bored during the summer, she had that great experience of actually living in a dorm and taking college classes.”

Please click below to learn more about our summer internship programs at each school:
AF Brooklyn High School Summer Internship Program

AF Amistad High School Summer Internship Program

AF Hartford High School Summer Internship Program

AF University Prep High School Summer Internship Program

If you are interested in hosting a scholar for a summer internship, please contact Megan Fraker at meganfraker[at]achievementfirst[dot]org.