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Discipline referrals have been reduced by over 95% compared to their pre-Innovate levels.


98% of Innovate students graduate from high school.


92% enrollment rate in secondary schools.

This life-changing program is for students who self-identify as high school dropouts. Participating students are placed in a cohort to work with Innovate teachers and mentors, and attend group and personal counseling to help develop healthy behaviors. In 2020, 98% of the seniors in the program graduated from high school and 92% enrolled in post-secondary education.
The Innovate program is a three-year plan.  Students are eligible for the program in the 9th grade and the students start the Innovate program at the beginning of their 10th-grade year:
  • Year One: Teaching Success: Making them students
  • Year Two: Connecting Lives: Community partnerships and integration
  • Year Three: Post-Graduation Plans: College and career planning



Innovate students have a carefully planned schedule and receive individualized attention from academy teachers and administrators. In the morning, students travel as a group to each of their four core classes (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) taught by Innovate teachers. In the afternoon, students are enrolled in a Guided Studies course where they are paired with student mentors. The students receive tutoring, get help with their organization, and check grades weekly with their mentors. Students also participate in an elective of choice with the general population of the school. Innovate students stay with their group of peers and their Innovate teachers for the remainder of their years in high school.


Weekly our students meet in smaller groups for group counseling. Students are also given the option for one on one counseling with a licensed therapist. The opportunity to share personal issues helps the students become healthier and more capable to deal with school.


Each semester our students are given the opportunity to apply for local internships through Partners in Education, a non-profit that places students in community businesses in order to explore career opportunities.


Kelly Choi has served as director of Innovate since its beginning, overseeing each of Innovate’s cohorts and ensuring the integrity of the program. In her teaching position, Kelly leads the Guided Studies course. Here, she works with the students on their “habits of heart,” or social-emotional standards, and life skills beyond academics.

Through Innovate, Kelly has become better able to handle different student behaviors and understand that these issues can stem from outside of the classroom. Taking the time to talk individually with students goes a long way in her eyes. “That time buys back way more focus,” says Kelly, “once I have them feel better about whatever is going on, then they can go back to learning. Everyone else can go back to learning.”

For Kelly, the real joy from her job comes from the students and their journey. “The very best thing about it is that we get to watch them really transform into a better version of themselves. Because we work with them for three years, we get to see their maturity develop. We get to see how they start coping with things differently. We get to celebrate their growth.”

Kelly’s passion for student success embodies the entire purpose of Innovate It is what allows the students to go from potential high school dropouts to confident graduates prepared for their next stage in life.


“Before the Academy for Success, I was stuck in survival mode and academics were the least of my worries. During my freshman year, my mom passed away from a drug overdose and my dad got sentenced to prison for 12+ years. Before that, I was bouncing from home to home and being taken by CPS; most days the streets felt like home. I grew up so angry at the world, constantly asking "why me." Gangs and violence became my sense of peace. Needless to say, my life felt like it was spiraling out of control. My crazy life spread through the halls at school and for once I was placed in a program that was meant for me. I got all the things I was in need of support, therapy, and adults who paid attention to me and cared for me. My grades went from all F's and a GPA of 0.0 to graduating DPHS with a 4.0 and getting a $10,000 scholarship to attend a CSU. I had never even imagined myself graduating high school let alone going to college.

The Academy for Success completely changed my life and I'll forever be grateful for that. Proudly, I'm in my last year of school at SBCC and have been interning with the Academy for Success the past four years in hopes to spread the same hope the program provided for me.”

Antonña MolloFormer Academy For Success Student


Read about how The Literacy Project is making an impact in our community.

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The Academy for Success is a life-changing program for students who self-identify as high school dropouts. Participating students are placed in a cohort to work with Academy teachers and mentors,…