UCF’s two main programs are the Aim High In Life Educational and Life Skill Programs (ELSP) and Game Changers Conference for Young Males. These programs serve at-risk and underserved students throughout Montgomery County and the surrounding area. Programs are structured to enhance the success of high-achievers and to help all youth excel academically and socially throughout middle and high school. Our efforts are positively impacting the lives of our students and the community.
Aim High In Life Educational and Life Skills Program (ELSP):
Promoting student success!
The ELSP is our core program and is designed to promote student success. ELSP activity units consist of monthly interactive discussion/presentation sessions (the third Saturday of the month, September through June); SAT/ACT preparation sessions; leadership and enrichment conferences; summer book club and dialogue sessions; a 12-week Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) project; sporting activities (e.g., lacrosse, basketball, boxing, golfing), and a 3-day (Dream Chaser) college tour. Students also volunteer in community-related events. This program helps our young people, especially our male students build the confidence, competencies, and values they need to become healthy and productive young adults. Key activities are listed below.
Monthly Engagement Meetings
Overall program opportunities include mentoring, promoting positive attitudes, teaching responsibility and reinforcing positive behavior, self-esteem, high grades and test scores, job shadowing opportunities and rewarding academic performance. In addition, UCF focuses on education and life skills activities that will teach students how to navigate financial aid resources for higher education and trade/vocation school entry with the expectation of degree completion.
The program exposes students to new opportunities that they may not otherwise have, such as, to professionals from all career fields and industries. The monthly guest speakers come in and share wisdom and knowledge with our students helping them to visualize a brighter future for themselves. The program overall goal is designed to encourage students to stay out of trouble, stay in school, commit to excellence and prepare for independent living -- be it college enrollment, vocation/trade schools, or careers in the military, federal service or private sector careers.
After the meeting’s main presentation, most meetings include three breakout sessions: elementary students, Just Us Girls, and Man Up 101.
Aim High In Life Educational and
Life Skills Program (ELSP):
Promoting Student Success
SAT/ACT Preparation Sessions
Carla Dickerson, (known as the Scholarship Lady) partners with UCF to conduct workshops for three days in mid-September every year. These sessions are for students that are serious about achieving high scores on the SAT/ACT exams. The sessions are designed to prepare students for the exams by teaching them the strategies for selecting the correct answers. The Scholarship Lady and her team of certified instructors equip students with an easy and clearer understanding of test-taking skills. Students learn how to apply the strategies taught and more importantly increase their test-taking CONFIDENCE and reduce test anxiety.
U-STEM Fun Zone
“U-STEM: United We Play, United We Succeed in Life”
Exposing students—who otherwise would not have access—to an after-school STEM program using premier instructional materials that build on their enthusiasm for robotics, technology and design programming while enhancing life-long STEM literacy skills vital to their future post-secondary education and workforce success—problem-solving, innovative and critical thinking, active listening, communication, marketing and productive teamwork.
Dream Chaser College Tour
UCF takes students over Montgomery County’s Spring Break to North Carolina, visiting 7 to 8 colleges and universities in 3 days. A bus or passenger van is used to transport the students. Students are lodged in hotels and we are hosted by UCF former students and faithful friends at every stop. In addition, throughout the academic year, students attend local college fairs and visit area colleges throughout Maryland, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The Game Changer is a 1-day conference for Montgomery County Black and Hispanic male students, grades 4 to 12. The conference brings together young males and adult male volunteers; individuals who understand some of their struggles. The setting provides an opportunity for adults to uplift, inspire, encourage, and motivate the young males to make good decisions and pursue being the best that they can become. The conference outcome is to change the participants’ mental mind map and to give them hope and a vision to guide them in successfully navigating life by making them aware of the need for academic excellence, instilling confidence, and relaying values needed for positive youth development in order to become productive citizens.
Tailored for their grade group, workshops are designed to address academic concerns (study skills, college preparation), life skills (how to interview, how to tie a neck tie), and social issues (social media, bullying), as well as current issues that affect the lives of young Black and Hispanic males.
The Montgomery County Public Safety Officers’ presentation before a large male audience provides the officers time to “be real.” This presentation grabs the youth attention, as the officers share examples of situations and consequences. The officers present guidelines as to how to approach those in authority, emphasizing respect (at all times, everywhere). Fielding questions from the audience provides the officers an opportunity to promote trust and build relationships with young Black and Latino males.
A 3-hour Parent Workshop facilitated by local teachers, experts, and counselors provides parents with strategies to help their students prepare to achieve their post-secondary college and career goals while promoting positive school and community behaviors.
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.