Accomplishing our purpose entails having long term influence with a student, ideally from age 13 to age 18. Relationship precedes influence, and we believe that the most effective and long-lasting relationships start when the student is in middle school. We strategically choose middle schools that draw their students from neighborhoods suffering high rates of poverty and violence. We know from experience that students from these schools can be leaders.
We have one big goal for each student, “I Can Lead Myself Well”. We chose this goal because a 13-year-old can grasp it; they know when they do it well and they know when they fail.
Nothing about our program involves a traditional classroom. Whenever possible, we are outside. Every core skill is presented and practiced through high energy experiential learning methods. For example, self-control is demonstrated and practiced through activities requiring high levels of self-control. The students fail a lot in the beginning and that is part of the learning process.
Students who successfully complete at least one semester of Leadership TEAM are invited to apply for the Summer Work Project when they graduate eighth grade.