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Higher Academics Summer School

Program Description

Higher Academics Summer School (H.A.S.S.) commits to the principles of leadership, scholarship, community, and responsibility in order to produce a well-rounded student capable of success in both high school and higher education. Students living in the Black Belt of Alabama experience the educational injustice of the achievement gap during the traditional academic year as well as summer vacation. In the summer months, the students have few opportunities to build upon their education; as a result, H.A.S.S. strives to fill this void. By the end of the intensive four-week experience, the 20 students of H.A.S.S. will make substantial academic gains coupled with the development of life skills necessary to succeed in today's rapidly evolving society.

Upon gaining admission into the school, H.A.S.S. students will spend one week of class in Sumter County, Alabama in the Black Belt and the three remaining weeks of class will take place in Birmingham. The four week H.A.S.S. curriculum includes the complete analysis of two novels, a 6-8 page independently conducted research paper, IT skill building, a grammar boot camp, and a newly developed individualized math course focused on the standards present on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. In addition to experiencing a rigorous college-prep curriculum, the 9th grade students will have the opportunity to tour colleges and universities within the surrounding area, visit local attractions, and discover the culture of the largest metropolitan area in the state of Alabama.

The Achievement Gap in the Black Belt:

During the first year of operation, the school districts represented within the summer school will include Marengo, Perry and Sumter counties. On average, in highly impoverished regions, such as the Black Belt, only 1 out of every 10 individuals will graduate from college. Despite the hard work and persistence of the school districts, the 8th grade students from the previously mentioned counties placed in approximately the 35th national percentile in math in the spring of 2009. H.A.S.S. students will come from school districts where over 90% of the student population receives free or reduced lunches. In order to qualify for this federally funded program, a family of four individuals must earn an annual income of no greater than $27,560.

Services Provided

  • Arts and cultural
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Science, tech, engineering, & math (STEM)


Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 20
  • Middle School: 0
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 0
  • Non-traditional: 0

Populations Served

  • Academically At-risk


  • Less than 25%