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Teen Parents Triumph and Achieve Academic Success

We are so inspired by the outcomes at Seagull Alternative School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It's a site for pregnant and parenting youngsters and where our life-transforming program The Rising: Elevating Education, Expectations and Self-Esteem™ was initiated. It is thrilling to us all--educators, students, CARES leadership--that academic year 2016-17 evaluations show that our Rising scholars are growing strong. They have higher attendance rates, lower-than-average school drop-out rates, higher graduation rates, far fewer suspension, and more earned high school credits.

 The Rising was built after I visited the school and saw what took my breath away: girls wrestling their babies, schoolbags, baby bags and baby seats onto yellow school buses. Some had multiple children. I learned this was not unique, but a nationwide crisis, and I knew that CARES could help solve it. We aligned with Principal Bonnie Clemon and subject-matter experts and created a curriculum to strengthen and advance young parents raising children while still children themselves. Tracey Robertson Carter, then a high-level museum executive in  Miami, stepped forward, took the reins and brought able  women and men with her. Without funding, they began the work. And, so, The Rising was born.

 At Seagull and our Rising sites in other cities, a safe space is created for students to voice their challenges and pain and also their hopes and dreams. Our group-mentoring framework provides the consistent presence of a team of CARES trained psychologists, social workers and volunteer mentors who instill in young people a love for learning and provide supports, with local partners, our children must have to flourish. Our scholars learn, as Tracey Robertson-Carter says, "how to heal themselves, how to calm themselves, how to build healthy relationships, how to live and love. This is what we are all learning, mentors, students, CARES leaders alike."

 With learnings from evaluations across all Rising sites in Chicago, Detroit and South Florida, CARES is building the infrastructure needed to scale the model and replicate it sequentially through our 58-city CARES affiliate network. The whole-school, group-mentoring training is designed to propel multitudes of young people--some are parents, some in juvenile detention, some returning citizens, some in shelters and foster care. But all are struggling in our nation's gravely under-resourced schools and grappling with the multiple traumatic effects of poverty: fear, sadness, unrelenting violence and often, hunger, homelessness and other abuses that any adult would find daunting, and that cause illness and disease in children and traumatic stress which prevents them from focusing and learning.

In whole-school assemblies and intimate Wellness Mentoring Circles in classrooms, The Rising instills in young people that no matter how challenging their present, it needn't define their future. With the consciousness-changing Rising curricula and encircled by caring adults, our young are realizing that critical thinking, discipline, commitment to their education and practicing the life-nourishing principles of The Rising is transforming their lives, turning the traumas of poverty into triumphs and lifelong sustainability for themselves, their family and community.

 With our whole hearts and on behalf of our beloved children, we thank you for your support.

Susan L. Taylor

Founder and CEO


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