High-quality summer learning programs can spark student curiosity and passion, augment academic achievement, nurture intellectual peer support, and influence educational and career trajectories. In focus groups conducted by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, high-achieving students have consistently identified rigorous summer enrichment programs as among the most important and valuable experiences during their middle and high school years. Research is clear on summer programs’ ability to stave off summer learning loss, and evidence is growing to delineate the specific benefits of summer programs for academically talented students. Unfortunately, high-quality summer enrichment programs remain out of reach for many low-income, high-achieving youth who cannot afford the tuition and related costs of residential programs or whose local community does not offer a program specifically geared toward such students. Through the Summer Enrichment Program, the Foundation supports nonprofit organizations or universities who provide access to high-quality summer enrichment programs for high-achieving low-income students entering grades 6 through 12.
Middle and high school students need rigorous academics, real-world applications of what they are learning, and opportunities to envision their future in college and a career. To increase enrollment and success of low-income and minority students in high school Advanced Placement courses, the Foundation partners with organizations that connect high-achieving, lower-income secondary students to advanced coursework and experiential learning that prepares them for a bright future. Through its Advanced Learning grants, the Foundation is increasing enrollment and success of low-income and minority students in high school Advanced Placement courses.
The Talent Development Award recognizes exemplary practices that transform high-potential, economically disadvantaged elementary and middle school students into high achievers. As shown in the Foundation’s report, The Achievement Trap, roughly half of the low-income students in the top academic quartile in the 5th grade drop to a lower quartile by the time they reach the 8th grade. Moreover, even the top performing low-income students lag behind their higher-income peers in what is now referred to as the “excellence gap.” Too many young students with the potential to reach great heights, academically and artistically, simply won’t make it without targeted, excellence-driven interventions. We are looking for organizations committed to optimal outcomes for high-potential, low-income students.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Talent Development Award is a one-time $500,000 grant intended to catalyze an organization’s work, bring strategies to a broader scale, and amplify conversations around one approach to cultivating potential.
Major criteria considered for the Talent Development Award include:
Alignment with the Foundation’s commitment to identify, cultivate, and/or promote exceptionally talented students who have financial need;
Focus on students in grades K-8;
Effectiveness in achieving outstanding student performance in academics, leadership, and/or the arts as demonstrated through internal reviews, external evaluations, or scientifically-confirmed research;
Strong leadership with a clear vision and the capacity to influence stakeholders;
Distinctive, noteworthy programs and practices that could be replicated.