College Discovery Academy Supports and Inspires Middle School and High School Students in Baltimore City
Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) College Discovery Academy, a year-round college preparatory program created by MSU’s Office of Community Service, has been awarded a $200,000 Next Generation Scholars of Maryland grant by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). The College Discovery Academy was established to offer academic assistance, life skills, college preparation and career readiness components to Baltimore City youth in grades 7–9 and promote the success and achievement of youth scholars in their future endeavors. The academy was launched this past November with 36 student participants from four Baltimore City public schools: Forest Park High, Guilford Elementary/Middle, Vanguard Collegiate Middle and Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle.
“An important goal of Morgan’s Strategic Plan is engaging with the community. The Next Generation Scholars grant from MSDE will provide much-needed financial support to the Office of Community Service in helping to connect successful Morgan students with Baltimore City youth to serve as near peer mentors,” said Maurice Taylor, Ph.D., Morgan’s vice president for Academic Outreach and Engagement. “Through this effort and with the support of the grant, Morgan students will spend time with seventh through ninth grade Baltimore City youth, sharing life skills, encouragement and tips on preparing for college.”
Youth scholars in the College Discovery Academy engage in a variety of learning activities during weekly, seven-hour sessions on Saturdays, on Morgan’s campus, through the third week of June. Morgan students guide the youth through early morning language arts and math instruction, based on Common Core State Standards, in small-group, nonjudgmental settings; expose them to different college majors and professional career options in the early afternoon and lead “Scholar Hour” sessions from 3 to 4 p.m., in which the youth work on projects in their stated career areas of interest. During the summer, the students will participate in the academy’s “Summer Internship” program for 10 hours a week, completing their projects with Morgan faculty members or other professionals. The program will conclude with a graduation ceremony in August.
“In order to highlight the benefits of the College Discovery program to African-American youth who live in low-income neighborhoods, an inspirational College Discovery documentary film is being developed, with the goal of capturing the perseverance and struggles made by the youth as they tackle the daily Saturday tutoring and educational enrichment activities,” added Deanna Ikhinmwin, director of the Office of Community Service. “This film will also show the commitment of each youth as they engage in the various program components which are all designed to promote self-pride, leadership, the importance of higher education, and future career choices.”
The College Discovery Academy curriculum integrates many of the tutoring, college preparation and mentoring programs that Morgan’s Office of Community Services has developed and implemented successfully since its creation in 1993. The office facilitates bold action to address the educational, social, cultural and recreational needs of underrepresented and educationally “at-risk” youth in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Its programs, most of them free of charge to participants, involve university students, faculty, staff, community organizations, youth and more. The more than 15 programs include activities and events for elementary school, middle school and high school students and their families.
“The children (of the College Discovery Academy) are phenomenal,” said Brittany Laws, academic enrichment coordinator for the Office of Community Service. “They have goals in IT. They have goals in engineering. They want to do photography. They want careers in health and science. One of our young men is actually working on a cellphone app with Morgan State students. Some of our students are into fashion. Others are into broadcast media…. At College Discovery Academy, we put the children on the right path.”
Morgan was one of seven nonprofit organizations that received Next Generation Scholars of Maryland grants in 2017. The $4.7-million program makes funding available to nonprofit organizations to develop programs that provide guidance and services to strengthen college access and success.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution offering more than 100 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
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Larry Jones, Morgan State University