Welcome to Our New Partner: Higher Achievement Program


On a recent summer morning in a northeast Washington classroom, a group of 6th graders sits spellbound. Gasping “ooh” and “aah”, they listen as the teacher explains a science experiment the class will follow for the next few weeks. Hands spring up into the air before she even gets a chance to finish asking how they think the
experiment will turn out.

These students, or “scholars” as they are referred to, are part of the Higher Achievement Program. Now in their 30th year, the Higher Achievement Program recruits
recruits middle school students from all over the City with the goal of improving
their grades, test scores, attendance and providing opportunities to attend top area high schools.

Their four achievement centers, located in public and charter schools, serve roughly 80 scholars, operate year round, and have a rigorous academic focus. Since their inception, they have been headquartered in small offices at Gonzaga High School. Over the years, the space became so cramped, every square inch was bursting at the seams. Staff was even using a staircase as office space.

Realizing they sorely needed to relocate, they found a property that met their needs and approached LISC for financing. LISC provided a $400,000 loan along with a $400,000 loan from our partner the Nonprofit Finance Fund for the purchase the property.

Now, less than a year later, Higher Achievement successfully moved into their new headquarters at 317 8th Street NE in Capital Hill. To further support Higher Achievement as they grow, LISC is also providing a $50,000 grant over the next two years through our partnership with the State Farm Insurance Company.

So what is LISC’s return on investment? The outcomes speak for themselves. Roughly 75% of graduates from Higher Achievement attend top high schools, and 95% go to college – more than double the rate for students from similar backgrounds. Results from the most recent school years show that among C average students, 7 in 10 improved their reading scores by 1 full grade and just over 6 in 10 improved their math score by one full letter grade.

But even more telling, is the confidence the program instills in their young scholars. “Higher Achievement has taught me to not worry about what other people think about me, but instead, to do what I think will benefit my life and my future the most. People will tell you what you can’t do; they used to tell me I was a bad kid. Let me tell you right now, I am not a bad kid. You can do it. I did it.” Danvin Tucker, 8th grader and graduate of the Higher Achievement Program.