Help Yourself Foundation

What colleges and universities are involved?
Click here for a current list.

How do you define “at-risk”?
“At-risk” is a term that is economics- based. Using federal definitions, it means children who are part of the more than 13 million Americans who are below the poverty line and are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program.

Is the program race-based?
No. Although a major goal of the program is to increase the number of African-American and Latino students on college campuses, legal restrictions preclude making race a determining factor. The goal can therefore be obtained — legally — by setting up Help Yourself academies on college campuses located in urban areas. However, there are disadvantaged children throughout the United States, and we want to reach as many of them as possible.

Why does the program begin in third grade?
Most education experts agree that, if one is going to have an impact on young children’s educational development, those children must be “reached” by the third grade. While any attention at any age is better than no attention, children are less likely to drop by the wayside if their exposure can begin by the third grade.

How was the number of children included in each class determined?
The number of 24 children in each entering class was determined by the maximum number that one teacher can reasonably handle. Although college students will serve as mentors and, in effect, teaching assistants, the actual teaching in the Help Yourself academies will be done by grade or high school teachers or college professors, and it is generally accepted that two dozen children is the appropriate number for one teacher to handle.

Will 24 students be added each year?
Yes. The goal is to have 24 third-graders enter the program each year. Should colleges wish to have more than 24 students in an entering class, they should plan on more than one teacher.

Will students come from one school or from multiple schools?
Each college will determine how students will be selected. For those colleges with a grade school in their backyard, it would be easier for the college to “adopt” that school, rather than to seek students from multiple schools, since transportation would not be an issue.

How do colleges handle what might be as many as 240 students on campus when the program is fully implemented?
To handle the numbers of young children on a college campus, the college would be best served by dividing the children into Monday-Wednesday/Tuesday-Thursday sections.

After School Academy

Is there flexibility in the curriculum that is being provided to participating institutions?
The curriculum that has been developed provides for six years of STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math. It has been written by National Board Certified Teachers, and it is based on what experts across the country believe will best develop students’ skills. In addition, most colleges do not have the capability to develop a grade-school curriculum. However, flexibility exists for those who choose to deviate from the curriculum.

View Sample 4th Grade Technology Lesson

How does the Help Yourself academy tie into existing programs that may exist at a particular college?
Given the fact that many colleges have pre-collegiate programs for high school students, the Help Yourself academy would fit easily with those programs. Help Yourself participants would naturally feed into the high school portion of the pre-collegiate programs. However, the high school program might need to be modified to build upon the Help Yourself academy's grades three through eight curriculum.

What are the results to date?
At the College of Saint Rose, 100% of the Help Yourself Academy children passed the New York State 4th grade science examination; at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 100% of academy children passed the exam and 67% did so at the highest level, compared to a 79% passage rate for the district, with only 35% scoring at the highest level.

What is the cost of the program?
The cost for each grade is roughly $15,000 ($625/child), an amount that covers transportation of the students to the campus, snacks and activities for the students, supplies, and stipends for the teachers. Accordingly, the annual cost of the program, once grades three through twelve are in attendance, would total $150,000. If a third grade class were "adopted," the cost to the sponsor would also be $15,000 /year or $150,000 over 10 years.

How can one support the Help Yourself Foundation?
To reach more children, the Help Yourself Foundation welcomes contributions. Donations are tax-deductible, and those made by GE employees or retirees are eligible for the GE Matching Gifts Program. For more information on how to contribute, please see How You Can Help.