New Horizons of Southwest Florida, a local nonprofit, is committed to its mission to empower at-risk youth to reach their full potential in life. New Horizons was established in 2002 with only 20 kids. It has since grown to provide more than 80,000 hours of after school tutoring and mentoring annually to nearly 400 children facing poverty, violence and hopelessness. New Horizons offers after school and summer tutoring programs for socioeconomically disadvantaged students; kindergarten through the 12th grade.
The U.S. Department of Education quantifies the need for the New Horizons’ programs in terms of high school graduation rates for Florida; 75 percent of all students graduated high school in 2013/14. That statistic drops drastically to 53 percent for students who speak English as a second language. The U.S. Census Bureau reports for 2011, in 27 percent of Florida homes, English is the second language. These are alarming statistics for the Florida economy; for roughly one fourth of Florida families, over 50 percent of their children do not graduate high school. The dropouts join the minimum wage, occasionally employed labor pool of non-diploma adults. Dropouts make up nearly half the heads of households on welfare and commit about 75 percent of crimes in the U.S (Jun 20, 2012 CNN report by Donna Keache). The high dropout rates are negatively impacting Florida’s economy and the quality of its social fabric. Reducing the dropout rate is a complicated problem that requires a focused, personalized solution.
New Horizons of Southwest Florida through its Super Kids (for students in grades K-5th) and Super Teens Clubs (for students in grades 6-12th) is tackling this problem. These programs provide tutoring, mentoring, and character building enabling students to experience academic success and many new opportunities. New Horizons’ staff and volunteers are key to helping our students overcome the challenges they face in the classroom and in life. The New Horizons’ program provides measurable results, and is one initiative that has demonstrated success and future potential to improve our at-risk youth’s high school graduation rate.
Through personalized instruction in a small group environment, each student gets one-on-one lesson assistance and encouragement that helps them to succeed. Mentoring and faith-based education builds character and confidence. The result is that reading scores rise by 35 percent on average, and teachers report more effective classroom participation as tutoring continues.
As our students grow from Super Kids to Super Teens, they are receiving competitive scholarships, graduating high school, volunteering and working in the community. Twelve Super Teens have already earned four year college scholarships from the Take Stock in Children Foundation for Lee County Schools and 25 have graduated high school. There is no better demonstration of the impact of the New Horizons’ programs than seeing the students throughout the community contributing to the quality of its social fabric.
New Horizons is focused on empowering tomorrow’s generation today. It is through the time and skills of volunteers and private, corporate and foundation support that New Horizons is able to accomplish its mission. In partnership with others, it continues to enable a brighter future for our students and in turn a brighter future for our community. Please visit us at www.newhorizonsofswfl.com or contact us at info@