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Since 2003, the IECA Foundation has supported more than forty programs and projects, with grants totaling over $350,000. Here is a snapshot of programs receiving Foundation grants and the success they have yielded.

Best Foot Forward

Multi-year Grantee
Best Foot Forward

Best Foot Forward provides one-on-one support to improve a student’s educational experience and help end the cycle of dismal outcomes that plague foster care youth.

Best Food Forward is the only agency in Palm Beach County exclusively dedicated to the education of foster care youth.

Best Foot Forward utilizes a variety of strategies including:

Eligible youth currently reside in foster care and attend public school in Palm Beach County.

Best Foot Forward has a 100% high school graduation rate.

Chucktown Squash Scholars

Charleston, South Carolina
Multi-year Grantee
Chucktown Squash Scholars

Chucktown Squash Scholars exists to close the achievement gap for underserved youth and prepare students for their college education by implementing a unique blend of physical activity, academic mentoring and community service. Chucktown Squash Scholars holistic model prepares low-income children to succeed in school and life. We harness squash, academic mentoring, and service learning as vehicles to build skills essential to future academic and professional success: communication, sense of belonging, and initiative. Our programming offers academic enrichment, homework completion, oneon- one tutoring, college advising, health and wellness training, athletics, and community service.

Since 2010, The College of Charleston has partnered with Chucktown Squash Scholars. Our programming utilizes undergraduate volunteers to provide one-on- one tutoring, mentoring, and guidance for our young scholars. Our program is based on a positive youth development model that utilizes community partnerships to promote holistic development in four areas, personal and social responsibility, physical literacy, academic development, and positive relationships. We strengthen bodies and minds, and we strengthen relationships critical for the communities we serve: between teachers, students, families, and community supporters. Children stay in our program from grades 5th-12th, and through college, with benefits that deepen over the years.

While the sport of squash is not widespread in the Charleston area, Chucktown Squash Scholars is following a model practiced by more than 20 urban squash programs in cities around the country, including New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Cincinnati. This year-round, indoor sport provides a fun, active “hook” which gets kids committed to the Chucktown program – both its athletics and its academics.

Codman Academy Charter Public School

Dorchester, Massachusetts
Multi-year Grantee
Codman Academy Charter Public School

Codman Academy Charter Public School (CACPS) received its charter from the Massachusetts Department of Education on February 27, 2001. Codman began as a high school, serving grades 9-12, and opened in September 2001 on the site of Codman Square Health Center, with a founding class of 32 ninth graders. CACPS was Dorchester’s first charter high school, serving a maximum of 145 students. The school was created in response to a strong community need for a college preparatory, small high school in the Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood. Starting in 2016-2017 (at full capacity) Codman is serving 345 students, grades K-12. A majority of Codman’s students, chosen by lottery, live in Dorchester, Roxbury, or Mattapan. Upper School students attend school six days a week, and all students benefit from an extended day schedule Mondays through Fridays. 100% of Codman’s graduates have been accepted to college. 70% of alumni are enrolled in or have graduated from college.

Social justice is a major component of life at Codman Academy. Through the exposure to an expeditionary learning curriculum deeply rooted in social justice, Codman students demonstrate both an awareness of social justice issues and a commitment to give back to the community. Codman’s humanities classes, which are organized thematically and integrate English and history, afford students the opportunity to explore differing concepts of justice, learn about resistance movements in and out of the United States, and critically examine common versions of history. Math and science classes also explore issues related to social justice including the study of global warming and sustainable living, the safety of staircases in the community, and ethical dilemmas stemming from advances in biology. Many of Codman’s elective style Upper School Saturday classes offer additional learning opportunities rooted in social justice.

Community Preparatory School

Multi-year Grantee
Community Preparatory

Community Preparatory School serves culturally and economically diverse students who are well qualified to benefit from a rigorous academic education in an atmosphere of mutual respect, especially students who would otherwise not have access to such an education. The school’s goal is to help its students succeed in college-preparatory highschool programs and to become community leaders.

Community Preparatory School challenges students to become confident, independent learners and develops a strong sense of public service in students through community service and stewardship. It engages parents, students and teachers in goal-setting and planning in an effort to ensure academic and social success for each student.

At Community Preparatory School, “diversity” is an umbrella term that includes race, gender, ethnicity, culture, nationality, sexual orientation, social/economic class, physical and learning differences, and religion, as well as other characteristics that contribute to each individual’s full identity. The goal is to nurture and sustain an environment in which all — students, alumni, families, faculty, staff, trustees, volunteers and visitors — are recognized and valued both as members of the school community and as irreplaceable individuals.

Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization

Multi-year Grantee
Gold Coast Down
Syndrome Organization

The Mission of the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization is to be a proactive, dynamic support group to all people who have Down syndrome and their families.

The Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization is a driving force in the community, generating acceptance and belonging of individuals with Down syndrome. The goal is to create a society in which people with Down syndrome can involve themselves in activities that will assist in their personal development. This includes their choice to pursue a higher educational level, better employment opportunities, and a variety of recreational activities, all without prejudice or discrimination.

The program strives to overcome barriers that prevent children and adults with Down syndrome from being included in society. Since education is a key factor in success, a series of programs are designed to help children in school. These programs include building parent understanding of how children with Down syndrome learn and teaching them to be effective parent educators (Best Start and the Learning Program) for children and parents from birth though high school; education for teachers (The Exceptional Educators Program); assistance to parents at school IEP planning meetings (Educational Advocacy) and transition planning (Smart Start and School Rules) which educates parents on what to expect when their child enters preschool, kindergarten and later grades.

For adults, the programs place emphasis on continuing education and high expectations by providing Adult Enrichment activities that develop social skills, literacy and an understanding of self-advocacy, including SAIL (Self Advocacy for an Independent Life).

National GRACE Foundation
Multi-year Grantee
National Grace Foundation

The National GRACE Foundation provides FREE college admissions and financial aid counseling to pediatric cancer patients and survivors. The National GRACE Foundation’s College Awareness Program was established to provide the assistance that young cancer fighters and their families need to navigate the college admissions and financial aid process, all for free. It is Anthony and Michelle’s way of giving back to all the people that helped them and their family when they needed it most. Missed deadlines or incomplete paperwork can mean the difference between being accepted to college or receiving financial aid.

The average high school student is busy with school, homework, family and friends. Add long drives to treatments, managing medical appointments and double homework due to missed school. Applying for college stops feeling like a priority in life. Some students are successful on their own, some just give up.

The National GRACE Foundation’s College Awareness Program is the ONLY program of its kind offering FREE college admission and financial aid counseling and advocacy service. These comprehensive services help our pediatric cancer fighters go to college and make it financially feasible. In 3 years, the CAP (College Awareness Program) has assisted over 500 families for free, resulting in over $500,000 in additional scholarship funding.

GRACE helps students and families

Neutral Zone

2018 Grantee

In 2016-2017, Neutral Zone partnered with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) to launch intensive diversity and inclusion training to a cohort of 60 primary and secondary educators called the Justice Leaders Network. This cohort went through 4 professional development trainings with the final training, led by Neutral Zone, on youth-adult partnerships through an intersectional lens focused on identity. This launch was so successful that a new cohort begun this year. Effective January 31st, 2017, the State of Michigan’s Rules and Regulations around discipline in schools was changed to require training in non-punitive disciplinary approaches, “ 380.1310c. Restorative practices as an alternative or in addition to suspension or expulsion; definitions” (Michigan Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulation) as a mode of increasing positive school climate. Upon reflection and direct feedback/peak interest from participants, Neutral Zone believed adding a two-day restorative practices training to the Justice Leaders Network professional development opportunity would be transformative not only to the participants but the schools they represent.

With the support of the IECA, Neutral Zone offered a two- day Restorative Practices training to 30 Washtenaw County Secondary teachers and administrators during the summer of 2018. After completing the training, participants were able to:

New Futures

2016 Grantee
New Futures

New Futures provides a practical yet innovative program of scholarships, career education services, and support to lowincome DC-area young people pursuing shorter-term post-secondary educational opportunities toward fulfilling careers. In close collaboration with 14 Community Partners, New Futures provides a broad range of services that focus on assisting local young people to obtain associate degrees, professional certificates and other shorter-term post-secondary educations that lead relatively quickly and inexpensively to meaningful and well-paying careers. New Futures empowers youth to realize their potential and achieve financial stability. The programs bridge information, education and workforce gaps to ensure a long-lasting impact, both for the young people and the broader community. New Futures is a leader in the DC area post-secondary education and workforce development spaces.

Through the Scholars Program and our Career Education Program, New Futures serves youth and young adults in the DC Metro Area seeking life-changing educational and career opportunities. Nearly all the Scholars have incomes below the Federal poverty level. Many New Futures Scholars are immigrants. Scholars’ ages range between 17 and 29 years old, and about two-thirds are female. Forty-six percent are Hispanic; 46% are African American; 8% are Asian. New Futures Scholars Program empowers low-income students to obtain a shorter-term postsecondary education (associate’s degrees or post-secondary certificates) toward a meaningful career and financial selfsufficiency.

The New Futures Scholars Program provides:

The New Futures Scholars Weekend fosters a sense of community for Scholars and assists them in developing skills that contribute to academic and career success.

Reading Power

Lake Forest, Illinois
Multi-year Grantee
Reading Power

Reading Power helps students become successful and independent readers and writers.

RP provides one-to-one literacy tutoring for elementary children in North Chicago and Zion, Illinois. Reading Power is a literacy tutoring program serving lowachieving children attending elementary schools. The mission is to accelerate children’s literacy learning and to develop in them a love of reading and writing, through an independent tutoring program working in partnership with schools. Reading Power believes that all children deserve to reach their intellectual potential.

Reading Power’s one-to-one first grade tutoring intervention is modeled in part after Project Prevent, a program developed by National-Louis University, and incorporates facets of Reading Recovery, an internationally renowned early intervention literacy program created by educational researcher Marie Clay. The kindergarten and second grade curricula were developed by Dr. Hender for the North Chicago elementary schools and adapted for use by volunteer tutors.

Through a unique partnership with the school district, Reading Power provides tutoring in its own classroom during the school day, setting it apart from the more familiar after school model.

Over the past thirteen years, 2,212 children who struggled to read and write have received one-to-one tutoring, accelerating their learning and changing their lives and tutors’ alike in incalculable ways.

In addition to tutoring, Reading Power serves as an advocate for students, distributes books for children to own, keeps in contact with parents, and works closely with school officials.

Sisters Circle™

Multi-year Grantee
Sister's Circle™

Sisters Circle™ provides long-term mentoring to foster meaningful and sustainable change in the lives of girls and young women in Baltimore.

Unlike most one-to-one programs, Sisters Circle™ develops dedicated mentors who make a long-term commitment to students from seventh grade through high school and beyond. A combination of monthly group activities, enrichment opportunities and one-to-one time builds strong relationships and provides new and exciting experiences for both mentors and mentees. Sisters Circle™ staff support mentors with a new mentor orientation, ongoing quarterly meetings and trainings, monthly mentor/mentee programs, online resources and guidance and personalized attention.

Monthly Half-Day Activities
Through monthly cultural, educational and recreational events, Sisters Circle™ students gain exposure to the world beyond their front doorstep and benefit from our community of

support. School Choice Guidance
Sisters Circle™ guides girls through the public and/or private school selection process to ensure that each participant is in the optimal educational setting given her circumstances and needs.

Summer Camp Placement
Positive, structured summer activities are highly encouraged. We work with students to obtain scholarships to many quality summer programs. Summer camp is the experience of a lifetime for inner city children.

Enrichment Opportunities
Sisters Circle™ encourages participation in one of our ongoing programs, including our own robotics team, a book club and horseback riding lessons. Partnerships with STEM camps, academic advancement programs and leadership workshops enhance Sisters Circle™ programming and build student resumes.

Career Exploration
As early as middle school, Sisters Circle™ motivates students to create a vision for their own future by providing career exploration workshops, exposure to professional role models and internship opportunities. Sisters Circle™ works with students to make intentional decisions about their future, define success for themselves, and choose their own path.

College Guidance and Post Graduate Support
Sisters Circle™ provides individualized, professional guidance for those preparing for college, support to current college students and a professional network with career resources for college alumnae.

Tailored Rides Equine Assisted Therapy, Inc. (TREAT)

Multi-year Grantee
Tailored Rides Equine Assisted Therapy, Inc. (TREAT)

Tailored Rides Equine Assisted Therapy provides horseback riding lessons for individuals with cognitive, physical and/or emotional special needs. The program benefits children and adults with needs that include (but are not limited to) Autism, Depression, Cerebral Palsy, elderly and senior citizens, Attention Deficit Disorder, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities.

The name reflects the program philosophy – lessons are tailored to each clients’ needs with the equines assisting and providing therapeutic value, as horses naturally do. Equine assisted therapy can be a real “TREAT” to students, improving general livelihood and physical abilities.

Tailored Rides uses equine assisted activities to improve clients physically, emotionally, and cognitively. It’s not just a matter of teaching participants horseback riding and horse care skills, it is about learning to connect with themselves, others and interacting with the world around them. The horse is used as a motivator for the students to practice impulse control, anger management, proper speech, and social interactions.

TREAT provides a safe and welcoming environment where each member of the community can enhance their quality of life through interaction with horses and nature in a positive, relaxing and nurturing environment. Equine assisted activity (EAA) encompasses a wide range of treatments that includes activities with horses and other equines to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons with neurological diseases or disorders such as cerebral palsy, movement disorders, or balance problems. These improvements in behavior often reverberate into other areas of life such as school and home.


Baltimore, Maryland
2016 Grantee

The Challenge:
A Disconnected Community Baltimore neighborhoods are dramatically different than they were 60 years ago. The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and Baltimore’s loss of manufacturing jobs have caused neighborhoods that were once racially segregated but socioeconomically diverse to become polarized by both race and class. This disconnectedness has resulted in increased crime and poor educational and economic outcomes.

Thread engages underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. We foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into selfmotivated, resilient, and responsible citizens.

Thread weaves a new social fabric by connecting students, university and community-based volunteers, and collaborators. By radically and permanently reconfiguring the social support structure of all involved, Thread breaks the cycle of crime, poor educational and economic outcomes and replaces it with a new cycle of educational attainment, service and social well-being.

Compelling Student Success
Thread engages students in the bottom 25% of their freshman class and radically and permanently reconfigures their social support structure. Each student is matched with a group of volunteers and provided individualized support for ten years while working toward realizing his or her potential.

Cultivating Volunteers as Agents of Change
The benefits of our student/volunteer relationships flow both ways and are designed to leave lasting imprints not only on our students, but also on our volunteers.

Creatively Linking Community
Thread creatively links students and university- and community-based volunteers to collaborators and resources in the larger Baltimore community, creating a broader, more inclusive social fabric – a “neighborhood” no longer defined by a map.

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

2016 Grantee
New Orleans Center for Creative

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts is a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts: filmmaking & audio production, music (classical, jazz, vocal), theatre arts (drama, musical theatre, theatre design), visual arts, and creative writing, while demanding simultaneous academic excellence.

NOCCA was founded in 1973 by a diverse coalition of artists, educators, business leaders, and community activists who saw the need for an institution devoted to our region’s burgeoning young talent. Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard, Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Wendell Pierce, Anthony Mackie, Mary Catherine Garrison and Gary Solomon Jr. are only a few NOCCA graduates who can attest to the extraordinary educational opportunity the Center represents to the children of Louisiana.

NOCCA’s track record over the past decades speaks for itself: every year a remarkable 95-98% of NOCCA graduates go on to college and conservatory programs across the country. Furthermore, approximately 80% of NOCCA students receive scholarships to pursue such higher education.

The key to NOCCA’s success is the ethic of discipline and responsibility it instills in students, which prepares them for productive adult lives whether or not they choose to pursue arts careers.

Admission to NOCCA’s tuition-free programs is by audition only. Our annual application season takes place each fall for the following school year. Auditions take place each spring from applications received within the posted application deadline. Students may apply for full-day, mid-day or afterschool instructional opportunities.

(MOSTe) Motivating Our Students Through Experience

Los Angeles, California
Multi-year Grantee

MOSTe is a mentoring, scholarship, college-access and college-retention program for underserved girls in Los Angeles County. MOSTe enrolls students beginning in 7th grade and continues through high school (More MOSTe) and college (Post MOSTe) to ensure college access and success. The IECA Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to MOSTe whose mission is to empower girls to become the next generation of college educated women. The vision of MOSTe is to be an agent of positive change and successfully graduate all of the girls from four-year colleges, preparing them for professional careers and positions of leadership within their communities. Of the students who enrolled in Post MOSTe since 2009, 78% have graduated or are on track to graduate within a 4-6-year time frame. Of the More MOSTe high school graduating class of 2013, 90% are now at four-year universities. Of the More MOSTe high school graduating class of 2014, 95% are now at four-year universities. Of the More MOSTe high school graduating class of 2015, 100 % were accepted at four-year universities.


Ewing, New Jersey
Multi-year Grantee

The Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum is dedicated to providing imaginative, hands-on programs that address anti-bullying, diversity appreciation, empathy and respect for all individuals, victim empowerment, upstander behavior and conflict resolution. Housed on the campus of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Kidsbridge is the only youth-oriented tolerance museum in the US. More than 2,000 students and educators visit the museum each year, learning strategies to deal with the character development and diversity appreciation issues of today's youth.

Since its founding, the Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum experience has been enjoyed by 9,100 visiting students and educators. More than 3,000 TCNJ college students (future leaders in education, psychology, interactive media, sociology, counseling, LGBT and religious diversity services, and community services) have volunteered their time. More than 25 TCNJ professors have made such connections possible by supervising these students. In addition, retired educators regularly volunteer from the local Mercer County communities. The unique partnership between Kidsbridge and local colleges enables all involved to benefit and to excel.

Kidsbridge recently completed, with IECA Foundation support, a series of videos addressing the issue of bullying. They can be viewed here

SpiritHorse International

Corinth, Texas
2014 Grantee
Spirit Horse

In 2002, Charles Fletcher had an idea.  He wanted to create a healthcare program that would have lasting impact on the lives of people with disabilities. SpiritHorse’s mission is to assist individuals with special needs in reaching their full potential through interaction with horses. SpiritHorse offers one-on-one therapeutic riding to children and adults with disabilities, at-risk youth, victims of abuse, battered women and veterans. Therapy is provided at no cost to clients, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. Since its inception, 106 SpiritHorse youth participants have spoken their first words, 63 have walked their first steps, 59 have sat up independently for the first time, and 12 have been newly measured “non-autistic.”

Therapy is provided in two, 12-week semesters a year, during which clients receive weekly one-hour, private sessions. The program focuses on building independence, and clients assist in preparation and horse-care: leading, grooming, putting on and removing equipment. Instructors then lead the client through the 88-step Equine-Assisted Healthcare Program: a series of movements and activities on the horse, designed for maximum intervention for different disabilities. All clients undergo therapy that utilizes the horse, and riding, to promote physical, mental and emotional growth.

Tammy’s son, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s, is a graduate of SpiritHorse. Tammy writes, “I cannot tell you how much [SpiritHorse] helped a struggling boy find his place in the world…. [W]hen we were at [the] facility he was at peace and happy and found something he loved and was good at doing and was proud of. That meant the world to us.” Tammy’s son is now completing high school, has plans for college, and has held a steady job for a year.

Charles Fletcher’s idea is truly changing lives.

Phoenix Charter Academy Chelsea

Chelsea, Massachusetts
2013 Grantee

Phoenix Charter Academy Chelsea is a public, charter high school that seeks to close the achievement gap between academically underperforming adolescents in Chelsea and surrounding cities and their academically successful peers. Phoenix Chelsea demonstrates “that it is possible for any student, regardless of life circumstances, to enter and succeed in college.” Opened in 2006, Phoenix Chelsea serves 215 high school students ages 14-22. Fifty-eight percent are former dropouts, and more than half are court-involved.

Phoenix is especially proud of Nancy’s story: Nancy was first drawn to Phoenix because of its high-expectations environment. “I knew I needed strict rules in my life to guide me,” she reflects. “I liked the uniform, hours, and rules because I knew all of those things would keep me out of trouble.” When she asked Phoenix students about the school, they told her about the difference they saw in the teachers here – a difference she soon recognized herself: “Teachers here are different than teachers at every other school I’ve gone to. They reach out, and we build a better connection with them inside and outside of school. It’s so clear that they care about us.”

As she approaches graduation, Nancy looks forward to enrolling in community college to study criminal justice. Looking back, she recognizes how far she’s come in her years At Phoenix. “I improved myself completely in terms of how I carry myself as a person,” she says. “I’ve learned to move forward.”

Camp of Dreams

Chicago, Illinois
Multi-year Grantee

On the day before his 10th birthday, Michael’s beloved grandfather died, causing Michael to withdraw. Michael describes himself at the time as “quiet and timid.” He kept all of his emotions in, unable to express his feelings of loss. That summer, Michael’s mother, Jacquelynn, sent him to the Camp of Dreams summer camp program for the first time, with the hope that he would have a fun and positive experience. “The idea of an inner city child going canoeing is just awesome,” she thought. Camp of Dreams offered a three-week summer camp in a wooded community outside of Chicago with no access to phones, television, or computers. Instead, campers had cabins and tents, bunk beds and hiking trails. As it turned out, this was exactly what Michael needed. Camp of Dreams believes that “too many young people, especially those between the ages of 8 to 18 who are economically disadvantaged, fall between the cracks in Chicago's educational system.” Camp of Dreams provides these students with the “same types of educational, cultural, and community-building opportunities that are more readily afforded to young people from more privileged situations.”

At Camp of Dreams, Michael flourished. “Camp of Dreams gave me something to look forward to,” says Michael. It was a safe place where counselors helped him heal from the loss of his grandfather. At the beginning of a camp session, each Dreamer shares his personal dream with the others and then activates the dream throughout the summer. Michael’s dream was for everyone to let go of group labels that often caused division — such as age, race, neighborhood and religion — and come together cooperatively. As Michael says, “You’re great, I’m great. Let’s work together.” Michael made friends with the diverse group of campers and especially enjoyed the family-style dinners each night when everyone came together.  Michael went on to become a leader in Camp of Dreams programs and a college-bound honors student, athlete and school leader, with plans to become a psychologist. According to Jacquelynn, “As a parent, you want every good thing for your child. Opportunities are not always available for children in communities such as ours. But many of the children here are diamonds in the rough. They just need the chance to sparkle.” Thanks to Camp of Dreams, Michael sparkles.

College Summit

Dunbar, West Virginia
2012 Grantee
College Summit

“College Summit has helped to give me advantages in preparing for college that I didn’t realize I needed until I went to the workshop. It was an amazing opportunity that provided me with the tools I need for the college and scholarship application process, as well as introduced me to lifelong friends.”
Autumn, College Summit Student

The mission of College Summit is to help students “connect the dots” between their future career goals and aspirations and the academic choices they make daily.  Their work is driven by the belief that sending one student to college improves his or her life, that sending a group of students to college strengthens communities, and that making the college-going process work for all students transforms generations. College Summit’s vision is that, one day, all students will experience high school as a “launching pad” for college and career success.

College Summit initiated its West Virginia program in 2001. Since then, the lives of more than 25,000 students across the state, including Autumn’s, have been impacted. The program provides college preparation support for students and professional development for high school educators, mobilizes “student influencers” to forge a student-driven college-going culture, and utilizes data to manage the school-wide college enrollment process.

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