Simon Youth Foundation (SYF) is a national nonprofit committed to helping students who are on the verge of dropping out of high school graduate and pursue post-secondary educational opportunities. SYF works toward this mission by partnering with public school districts to launch Simon Youth Academies primarily located in Simon Malls. The Academies give students on the verge of dropping out the same education they would receive in a traditional classroom, but in a flexible environment that emphasizes one-on-one learning, personalized support, and small class sizes led by compassionate teachers. In addition, SYF supports students in their pursuit of post-secondary opportunities through college counseling and its national community scholarship program, through which SYF awards more than $1 million annually to graduating seniors in every community home to a Simon Mall.
Student voice is a guiding pillar in day-to-day operations and long-term planning as the foundation works alongside students who face challenging realities beyond the classroom. In the 2014-15 academic year, the foundation launched its first comprehensive student listening effort through YouthTruth. It now has a regular practice of gathering and acting on student feedback to inform strategy and programmatic changes at both the network and school level.
“The student is the reason we exist and what our purpose defines us to. If we can’t hear their voice or know what they want, we become a bunch of well-meaning people who are trying to do something to students and not for students.”
— Dr. J. Michael Durnil, President and CEO
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Curious about this innovative education foundation’s approach? Learn tips and protocols to take back to your school or district. Check out the full case study to read more about how:
- Simon Youth Foundation uses feedback to create common language to bolster collaborative improvement
- Simon Youth Academy at Rose Tree Media uses feedback to gauge and strengthen academic rigor
- Simon Youth Academy at Circle Centre Mall uses feedback to strengthen relationships