SESP and High Jump Launch Community Scholars Program

SESP and High Jump Launch Community Scholars Program

Backs of two students sitting on rocksNorthwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), in collaboration with High Jump, recently launched the Community Scholars Program for middle schoolers in Evanston and Chicago.

High Jump – a two-year, tuition-free academic enrichment program for middle school students of limited economic means in Chicago – provides academic enrichment, social-emotional learning experience, and support for a successful transition to high school. SESP supports the program through research and design, and by making STEAM programming available through the FUSE Studios program.

Community Scholars, modeled after High Jump’s core program, offers students structured activities while also providing the opportunity for students to choose what they are interested in. Unlike the core program, where students come from many different schools and travel to one of three campuses across Chicago, the Community Scholars program takes its programming into individual schools – serving students within a specific community, in a school-based cohort.

Community Scholars launched this past summer at Chicago Public Schools’ Armstrong Elementary School and Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s Nichols Middle School. The program will continue this fall at both locations, while also launching at Rogers Elementary School in Chicago.

Earlier this month, SESP and High Jump brought together nearly 100 students and their families to celebrate the launch of the new program. SESP dean, David Figlio, and High Jump executive director, Nate Pietrini, welcomed students and families before joining together for a reception on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. “I hope some of you will end up being Northwestern students one day,” Figlio said. “This collaboration is really helping to design, and make sure you have, all the tools necessary to be successful in whatever college or university you choose to attend.”

High Jump looks for students who are performing within the top 20 percent of their class and who are seeking a higher level of academic challenge. The goal is to send students to top college preparatory schools and help them get into highly regarded four-year colleges and universities. The program has been successful – only 14 percent of low-income students complete college with a bachelor’s degree nationally, compared to a rate of 87 percent among High Jump students, according to Pietrini.

“It’s so important to invest early and support students as they transition to and through high school and college,” Pietrini said. “We see their eyes open when they think about the fact that they can go anywhere, and they deserve to be anywhere. We help them dream and dream big.”

SESP’s partnership with High Jump is one of several SESP programs designed to serve young students and promote college access. SESP’s Center for Talent Development helps to identify and develop students’ academic abilities from age 3 all the way through grade 12, while Northwestern Academy prepares high school students to successfully apply to, matriculate, and graduate from selective colleges and universities. 


By David Johnson
Last Modified: 9/30/22