SAYA’s holistic and comprehensive program model consists of academic support, college preparation, leadership and identity development, career exploration, sports activities and arts enrichment.
Academic Support and College Access
SAYA youth receive one-on-one tutoring and college advisement, take free SAT prep classes and go on campus visits to different public and private colleges. Youth also receive help with completing college applications, personal statements, financial aid forms and scholarship applications.
For our elementary and middle school youth, we provide homework help and ensure that all projects and activities include an emphasis on academic skill-building.
In addition, SAYA aims to increase support to youth and their families as students progress through their schooling, particularly as they transition from middle to high school and high school to college.
In May 2015, for the first time ever, the SAYA College Scholarship Fund gave out awards to seven qualifying youth to help them cover a portion of their higher education costs, renewable for all four years of college based on academic standing. In May 2016, the Fund announced eight new scholarship winners who start college in the fall.
Leadership and Identity Development
SAYA provides leadership programs for young women and men in high school through which they can develop their personal and social identities in a culturally affirming space, gain the skills and knowledge necessary to stay healthy in mind and body, and have the opportunity to receive mentorship.
Through activities, discussion and reflection, our youth navigate the challenges of growing up in the U.S. at the intersection of race, class, and gender. They engage in conversations that challenge existing stereotypes of who they should be and undertake projects that push them out of their comfort zones. Through collaboration and dialogue, they learn to trust and support each other. They follow a sexual and reproductive health curriculum and have the opportunity to access information and raise questions and concerns without fear of judgment. Through guest speakers, trips to diverse workplaces and an annual career exploration day, youth gain exposure to different educational and professional paths.
The goals of the program are to enhance their critical-thinking and decision-making skills, equip them to practice self-care, facilitate a sense of community and peer support, help them thrive in high school, and prepare them for life beyond it.
SAYA youth have the opportunity to participate in artistic expression as well as sports and wellness activities. High school youth play basketball at our Elmhurst Center and we recently began offering dance classes at one of our high schools. We offer violin and yoga classes at some of our middle schools sites. Our elementary school youth work on projects to improve their community, such as bullying prevention and increasing voter participation in their neighborhoods.