Empowering Teens for Future Success
Teen Achievers is a national college and career readiness program by the YMCA of Central Florida that supports students in setting and reaching higher education and career goals.
Most teenagers are uncertain about their careers by the time they reach the end of high school and oftentimes face the future without specific plans or goals. The Teen Achievers program aims to provide students with positive role models in an enriching environment to foster a desire to seek careers that inspire passion and create engaged, productive citizens in our community. Since 1990, the Teen Achievers program has played a pivotal role in Central Florida ensuring that teens successfully matriculate through middle school and high school. Today, there are more than 13,000 Teen Achiever Alumni! With tutoring and inspiration from their mentors, students learn the importance of focus, drive, and ambition in reaching their goals. Our Teen Achievers program provides tremendous guidance to help turn their dreams into reality. Teen Achievers welcomes middle school and high school students from all income and academic levels across Central Florida.
Typically Teen Achievers is available at one of our family centers and several middle schools and high school sites. Currently, though, Teen Achievers has paused and will return in January 2022. For more information on getting involved, parents and teens can contact our Middle School Programs team.
We help middle school and high school students develop plans for the future! Working with a team of volunteer mentors, teens boost their academic achievement, learn positive values, develop a strong work ethic, and embark on the path to success.
Teen Achievers delivers the 6to16™ college-readiness curriculum which includes a suggested set of core lesson plans and extensive supplemental lessons. Lessons are designed to cover 45-minute sessions and typically are taught as part of a graded course. The 6to16™ curriculum aims to equip students with the tools and skills they need to graduate from two- and four-year college or universities, the Armed Forces, or technical school.
Program Goals & Desired Outcomes
The main goal of Teen Achievers is to raise teens’ personal expectations by providing inspirational mentors and exposing students to diverse career options. Throughout the program, teens are guided through accessing scholarship information and aided in understanding the admissions process. Students may also elect to tour colleges across the country. In some cases, the program gives teens their first opportunity to visit a college or university in person, or even travel beyond the state’s borders.
Reach Higher With Teen Achievers
With the average U.S. school counselor having a caseload of 471 students, it’s often impossible for college counselors to provide the one-to-one help to support students during the college exploration and application process.
Fortunately, programs like Teen Achievers increase post-secondary enrollment by 12% on average! Teen Achievers result in significant long-term gains, including improved social emotional learning and reduced risky behaviors. All of our students—regardless of their race, household income, or family education history—have the proper tools to access college, receive post-secondary credentials, and succeed in the workforce.
The Five Pillars
For a variety of reasons, some teens have trouble attaining the academic and social competencies required for successful participation in school and society. Academic preparedness, school engagement, tutoring, and other program elements are essential for personal success. Research shows that well-designed, out-of-school academic programs increase achievement.
Possessing the knowledge necessary to prepare for and apply to college is essential to college matriculation. Yet, accessing information and advice about college prep and financial aid is particularly difficult for many first-generation college prospects, teens of color, or students from lower-income backgrounds.
Research proves that caring adult relationships are a critical component for youth to thrive. Healthy relationships with adults help to facilitate all other elements of the Teen Achievers program’s Five Pillars.
Students need to develop skills that will serve them well in a globally competitive, information-based society. Transferrable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration are essential for students to succeed in the academic and ever-changing work environment.
Positive identity development helps teens craft how they see themselves and how they feel the rest of the world perceives them. During the adolescent stage of identity development, youth experience a complex and extensive effort to understand their place in the world. For teens, the ability to see their future potential and positive outcomes is critical for their personal development.
College readiness is critical as post-secondary education is increasingly the primary route to upward mobility. That’s why Teen Achievers is so important in helping students reach their full potential!
Ways you can help
Since the inception of Teen Achievers in 1971, volunteers have been the lifeline of our program. We engage a wide range of positive adult role models who lend their experiences, expertise, and resources. They help support positive youth development through speaker bureaus, workshop presenters, mentorship, chaperoning, and committee work. In 2019, our various corporate and community volunteers committed over 750 hours of service to our Teen Achievers program and students.
We believe that strong partnerships are the core building blocks to improving the quality of life for the youth and families we serve in our Teen Achievers program. By aligning our values and working collaboratively with community partners, we are able to leverage our resources and expertise to reach more people. We’ve also launched a Teen Achievers Job Fair and expanded our program to the Positive Pathways Transition Center. Through our collective efforts and shared responsibility, we are making an impact and changing the landscape of our community for good!
THE YMCA TEEN ACHIEVERS PROGRAM CAME INTO MY LIFE AND GAVE ME THAT EXTRA PUSH TO BE SUCCESSFUL.Ahkeem M., participant
Essentially what the YMCA provides is empowerment to students no matter journey they choose to be successful in. […] Paying it forward is very important. Programs like [this] are what give our youth opportunities.Octavia M., mentor
If I didn’t have the Y or the Teen Achievers program, I wouldn’t be graduating.Aunasia T., participant
Before, I would care what others thought of me. Now, I realize that it’s ok to be who I am and that I have found some true friends that don’t judge me.Student Participant
It was never something I would have ever done before. It was fun and I learned a lot and can’t wait to volunteer at the next event.Student Participant
I AM A 5-STAR AMBASSADOR.
“I represent myself, my family, my community, my school, and my race with dignity and excellence. I am a Teen Achiever!” Teen Achiever Pledge
Our Commitment to Child Safety
Your child’s safety is our priority. Find out more about our commitment to keeping kids safe.
Children improve their technical skills while learning about healthy attitudes and sportsmanship!
Get in Touch
Do you have a question about our Teen Achievers program? Let us know!