by George J Elbaum
Beacon Academy (Beacon) is a 14-month school between 8th and 9th grades designed to close the achievement gap for a cadre of Boston’s bright and determined students and prepare them for high school. It was founded in 2005 to address under-education in Boston by creating a “jump year” between 8th and 9th grades for a small group of bright, motivated Boston area 8th graders eager to escape the downward spiral of education failures, economic dependence, and social challenges that low-income students face. It’s founding vision was to give these students the academic, social, and emotional tools they would need to earn scholarships at competitive independent high schools around New England and achieve success in high school, college, and into their first careers. With its slogan, “Opportunity Earned”, Beacon is the only school of its kind in the country.
How well has Beacon performed this mission in the 15 years since its founding is shown in the following impressive statistics:
- $62 Million in Scholarships: Its 269 graduates have earned over $62 million in scholarship funding from independent high schools and colleges. ($4 million scholarship funding earned collectively by class of 2019.)
- 99% Graduation Rate: 99% of the students in Beacon’s first ten classes have graduated from high school. (2-4 years gained in academic proficiency and 21 percental points average SAT score increase.)
- 80% are School Leaders: More than 80% of its graduates hold leadership positions in high school in athletics, student government, clubs, and more. Several have been class presidents. Many win academic and/or leadership awards.
- 75% College Matriculation: Of its 138 graduates of college age or older, 75% are currently enrolled in or have graduated from college, 10% plan to return to complete their degree thanks to the work of our College Completion Project, and the 15% who do not plan to receive a 4-year degree are working full-time or pursuing alternate paths such as military careers.
- 95% Stay Connected: Almost all of Beacon’s students stay connected to Beacon and to each other through participation at alumni events or direct contact with Beacon staff and peers.
My talk to the current class of 20 students was organized by Dreme Flynt, Facing History & Ourselves Teacher and Beacon’s Recruitment & Co-Curricular Manager, and supported by Marsha Feinberg, Beacon’s Co-Founder and also a member of Facing History’s New England Advisory Board. Arrangements for this talk were made by Facing History’s Judi Bohn and Jeff Smith, who have been arranging my talks in the Boston area for many years.