A message from President and CEO, Kristina Marshall, 1994-95 Winning Futures alum:
It’s hard to believe, but the 2023-24 school year marks the 30th anniversary of our Workforce Prep program. Here’s a quick look at how we started, where we are today, and the direction we’re headed.
Thiry years ago, Sam Cupp stood before a class of students at Warren Mott High School and began the first Winning Futures session. He was excited to talk to teenagers about setting goals and five-year strategic planning. As you can imagine, not all the students were thrilled about sitting through an hour-long talk about setting goals!
After that initial class, Sam learned a lot and made the program more interesting for students. He created a model where one mentor worked with a small group of students in the class. The program changed from being daily lectures for one week to a 10-week program where one mentor worked with six students. Today, it’s very different!
Now, students start the program in the 10th grade and can stay in it for seven years! In the first year, each team has one mentor and three students and meets weekly in a high-energy classroom session with our staff. Then, starting in the 11th grade, all mentoring is done one-on-one and includes hands-on workshops, virtual sessions, and visits to companies.
We can see that our multi-year program has a positive impact. More students stay in the program, going from a 50 percent retention rate to 70-90 percent (depending on the program year). Students feel more connected to their mentors and realize they’ve grown and learned while in the program.
Last year, we added more activities to help students with social-emotional learning. We saw students becoming better at understanding, dealing with, and talking about their feelings. This is an important skill for their personal and professional lives. Learn more about our results.
We also started Student Success Ceremonies at each school. With auditoriums filled with family members, mentors, and our team, we celebrated our 10th graders as they moved to the next year of the program and our 12th graders as they graduated from high school.
Sadly, we found out that new students in the program scored lower on our pre-surveys in the 10th grade compared to those who joined before COVID. The effects of COVID and social media have caused students to feel more anxious, less confident, and less hopeful.
The need for our program is higher than ever in our 30-year history. We see this as a chance to learn more about what students need, create new activities and lessons to help them, and make an even bigger impact on those who need the program most. With support from our staff, mentors, teachers, business partners, and foundations, we have what it takes to help our students build the skills and confidence they need to live the life they dream of!
Learn more about our program or contact me if you have questions or would like to explore opportunities for you or your organization to get involved.
Kristina Marshall, M.Ed.
President and CEO