Low-income students enter Kindergarten on average six months behind higher-income peers in their reading, vocabulary and school readiness. Though they learn at the same rate as their classmates during the school year, they also tend to fall about three months further behind in reading skills each summer, so that the cumulative “achievement gap” can reach as high as 2.5 years by the 5th grade and three years by 9th grade. Nationally recognized research has shown that engaging students from low-income families in academic programs such as Horizons during the summer prevents typical summer “brain drain” and reduces the associated achievement gap that accumulates over time.

Having students return to Horizons for multiple years is critical to helping them overcome the achievement gap. On average, Horizons at Harley students realize a two to three-month gain in reading proficiency each summer, and statistics show that if they attend Horizons at Harley for four to five years, 90% of them will graduate from high school. Because our experiential model of teaching excites and engages students in learning, most of our students are eager to return. In summer 2013, 95% of the students from the previous year returned.

Equally important, more than 75% of Horizons at Harley graduates have gone on after high school to enroll in college. It is clear that our students and their families value Horizons highly. Many of them return as classroom assistants to give back to the program after they graduate.