Teens Act has a mission to increase the high school graduation rate by empowering under-resourced students to obtain a postsecondary education, thus achieving their greatest potential.
Our goal at Teens Act is to break the cycle of generational poverty by reducing the high school dropout rate and providing underrepresented students with access to higher education. In order to target those who would benefit most, we offer our program to students who:
- qualify for a free or reduced lunch, or
- have a great need to improve a low GPA, or
- will be the first member of their family to obtain a post-secondary education.
We provide services through High Schools by providing licenses to High Schools that enable them receive Teens Act's programs. We closely work with High School guidance counselors to target under-resourced students who meet most of the criteria above.
We provide major three programs: 1) ACT Preparation Courses for Junior Students, 2) College Preparation Course, and 3) Parent Workshops.
1) ACT Preparation Course
The purpose of this course is to prepare students to be academically qualified applicant for college. Our teachers instruct students in the 4 disciplines of the ACT: mathematics, science, reading comprehension, and English. Students will set academic goals, study effectively for the ACT, discover their individual strengths and weakness, and lean test-taking skills.
2) College Workshop
The purpose of the this course is to motivate our students and equip them with the resources and information necessary to attend college. Students will change their mindset about education to learn that they can overcome such barriers as financial difficulties, low GPA, or past discouragement in order to achieve a post-secondary education.
3) Parent Workshops
The purpose of this workshop is to empower parents of under-resourced students with the knowledge, skills, and vision that will enable them to establish an academically edifying home. As a result, parent will be able to support their children in their quest for higher education.
In 2007 the idea behind Teens Act was born. While attending Brigham Young University, Dayan Bernal, Executive Director at Teens Act, created and implemented a successful college preparation course for at-risk Hispanic students at Provo High School as part of her honors thesis. Being able to identify with the frustrations associated with preparing and planning for higher education, she wanted to provide tools, knowledge, and resources to students who may find themselves in similar situations. The course had great success; in fact, three years later, 17 of the original 25 students completed their first year in college—students who otherwise would not likely have finished high school.
In 2011, Dayan, Saeko Logsdon (Management Director at Teens Act), and some fellow BYU students founded Teens ACT, which won second place in the Brigham Young's Social Venture Competition and was awarded the necessary funds to start Teens Act. Teens Act has been a 501(c)(3) organization since September 2011 with the mission to empower under-resourced student obtain a post-secondary education.
During the 2010-11 school year, we worked with juniors from Provo High School. Still in our start-up phase, the courses offered to our students were ACT Preparation, tutoring, and college preparation (including the college application process). The number of students enrolled was 15 with an attendance rate of 90 percent and 50 percent of our students fall under the category of ethnic minority. As for the impact of Teens ACT, the average ACT score improvement was 4 points with the highest ACT score improvement of 12 points (from 15 to 27 points). Two of our students have been accepted to BYU. One student, the first in his family to go to college, received a full scholarship.
Teens Act has expanded its programs to Independnece High School (in Provo city) and Jordan High School (in Sandy city) in the 2012 school year. We, at Teens Act, envision that our high school students will acquire the attitudes, skills, and behaviors that will enable them to make good choices, take control of their lives, and hold themselves accountable as individuals and members of a community. We hope to eventually expand our program to other high-need schools in Utah, and our long-term goal is to replicate our model nationwide as we continue to empower at-risk students to achieve their greatest potential.