Today’s post is written by Steve Reiher, VP of Marketing at Operation Kids.
Earlier this month, the “Operation Kids: Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans” campaign made a gift of $122,000 to New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School (also known as Sci High), fulfilling our commitment made in 2007 to raise a total of $240,000 for the school. The funding will be used to provide advanced elective classes in such areas as geology, environmental science, engineering and robotics, computer literacy, film and photography. It follows earlier donations that included funding to build an outdoor activity area for the school and to provide summer science internships for 25 Sci High juniors and seniors.
The “Rebuilding Dreams” campaign also made gifts this month of $45,000 to Best Buddies Louisiana, $60,000 to Beacon of Hope Resource Center, and $15,000 to New Orleans Outreach. I’ll tell you more about those gifts in a future posting.
I want to tell you a little more about Sci High, one of the great success stories to come out of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
Before the storm, the school was a half-day program on a college campus that served students who were bused in from other schools. Because Katrina so badly damaged the building, the school’s leadership was forced to relocate halfway across town in an old but less damaged facility. It needed a lot of work. However, it also gave school leaders a chance to do something they’d always wanted to do – create a stand-alone, all-day science- and math-focused school. So they formed a dedicated group of educators, parents and community leaders, and New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School was formed.
The results have been spectacular. Today, Sci High provides 370 students with a rigorous, lab-based education in science, math, engineering and technology. Perhaps most importantly, these young people are significantly outperforming their fellow students in other schools both in New Orleans and across Louisiana. And the school’s only been open for 3 years!
Now I know what you are thinking – these are privileged kids with prior achievements in science and math, so no wonder they are doing so well. Actually, as one of the few open-admissions charter schools in New Orleans, Sci High reaches many of the most underserved youth in the city. Students come from diverse ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds.
Eighty-six percent of the students are African American, 80% qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 57% are female.
Privileged? No, unless you count the fact that they get to attend a high school with some of the most dedicated parents, faculty and staff around – an education team that sets the standards high, requires students to work harder than they have ever worked, and provides their kids with all the support needed for success.
The young people at Sci High are capable of great things. With the guidance and encouragement of their parents, teachers and mentors, they are bound to succeed. All of us at Operation Kids and the Brees Dream Foundation, and of course our donors too, are thrilled we can play a part.