Selected by the United Way of Northeast Florida for this pilot initiative, Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS) partners with Communities in Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) intervenes in the lives of 6th grade students and their families who are exhibiting early warning signs of academic failure and dropping out.

Achievers For Life is a voluntary program currently offered in ten Duval County middle schools: Arlington, Fort Caroline, Northwestern, Matthew Gilbert, Highlands, Ribault, Jefferson Davis, JEB Stuart, Stilwell and Butler.

Targeted students have exhibited one or more of the following warning signs of school disengagement:

  • Low FCAT scores in Reading and/or Math
  • Excessive absences
  • Low grades in Math and/or Language Arts

JFCS Family Advocates and therapists work closely with the families of these identified students, providing wrap around services to strengthen the family and help the student improve in school. If the family system is strengthened at home, the child will be strengthened at school.

On average, AFL student success includes:

  • School absences for AFL students decreased by 25% between 5th and 6th grade.
  • AFL student GPAs improved 20% between 5th and 6th grade.
  • AFL promotion rates improved in 6th grade, while the Comparison Group rates declined.
  • AFL students gained 98.5 points in FCAT Reading, a 28-point higher gain than the average DCPS student, whose reading skills are better to begin with.

“The results speak for themselves. Achievers For Life’s components of mentors, family engagement and the extra focus on struggling students are helping to put students on track for success. From faculty to students to parents, every participant group in Achievers For Life is positive about its impact. Achievers For Life is an excellent example of a successful public/private partnership, and with all of us working together, we can provide the initiative to every 6th grade student who will benefit from this strategic support.”

– Ed Pratt-Dannals, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools