The preparation and achievement gaps and the digital divide between affluent and disadvantaged children is not only a challenge to global education but is also a threat to international prosperity, peace and security.
Since the late 1800’s, Americans generally have believed in the promise and potential of public schools to manage diversity, to disseminate knowledge and to open the doors of opportunity. However, today many areas of the world are severely lacking good public educational and other essential resources for poor children and their families. Therefore globally, communities are seeking practical, here-and-now solutions to assist poor, "nontraditional" students and their families in navigating and negotiating the long, complex, barrier-ridden journey from elementary school through the completion of a higher education.
Both experts and lay people agree that public and private educational institutions work best to provide equal opportunity for all children and foster diversity when they develop or are complemented by culturally competent, coordinated, comprehensive, child-centered, community-based resources and support. A recent report by the American Council of Education suggests that this type of community-based educational support be created immediately wherever it does not exist.
In 1998, in response to the educational, social and health challenges that poor children, their families, communities and schools face, Houston Preparatory Academy, a community-based non-profit educational organization implemented
is dedicated to helping low-income, under-served students reach their full potential. It is an all-year initiative to enhance the academic and social skills of poor, under-served children in the Houston (Texas) metropolitan area.
is grounded in community-based practice and stems from the belief that community development begins with the people who live there.
bridges the domains of community education and social work, and advocates for children to receive quality educational opportunities that ultimately produce self liberation, social equity, cohesive families, stronger communities and an informed and participatory society.
uses collaborative partnerships and existing resources to identify, prepare and support non-traditional, marginal, self-determined students from poor, urban communities through an enhanced educational and social route that will prepare them for future, successful academic attainment and informed community participation and leadership.
model is highly adaptable and applicable in cross-cultural urban settings in the U.S. and internationally.
U-Prep provides its students and families, pre-and in-service teachers and graduate level social work students with year-round, campus-and community-based experiences and services:
Academic preparation (math, science, language arts) coupled with an emphasis on the development of analytical and decision-making skills
Competitive sports in the Greater Houston Athletic Conference
Life Skills , drug and violence avoidance and conflict resolution programming
Guidance, placementand application assistance to private, vanguard and magnet schools
Scholarships and scholarship information
Communication liaison with education professionals
Higher education counseling and support
Health and social services
Case Management and advocacy
Dovetailing and referrals to existing community-based programs
Continued stress and facilitation of strong family involvement and commitment