The Academic Innovation Mentoring (AIM) grant is an ongoing academic mentoring partnership between WA Boys & Girls Clubs and WA State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. It focuses on assisting students with the highest barriers to academic success in select communities. The educational programming supported by both the OSPI and Discuren Foundation investments is focused on Project Learn implementation, a nationwide academic support strategy utilized by Boys & Girls Clubs. This strategy utilizes a five-component approach to assisting Club members: regular homework assistance, high-yield learning activities, regular recognition, school partnerships and family connections. In addition to academic programming, all AIM Clubs layer a social and emotional learning strategy to assist students with cultivating behaviors and attitudes that contribute to retention of academic gains.
With the help of the Discuren Foundation, the AIM grant has benefitted Clubs across the state, mostly in rural communities where resources are lacking and youth are in need of academic assistance. A typical week for an AIM participant includes one or two tutoring sessions, during which children are able to partner with staff or a volunteer mentor to review their academic progress, complete homework assignments and participate in high-yield learning activities, such as STEM/Robotics lessons, art projects, group discussions or reading with a buddy. Specific attention is devoted to homework completion, with a focus on improving students’ confidence, self-reliance and tenacity. Club staff communicate directly with students’ families, teachers, and counselors to check in on students’ progress in school, any issues with attendance or behavior, and report on progress made at the Club during AIM sessions.