Project Promise to Continue Through Baylor Community Outreach Grant

  • Project Promise microscope
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise art
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • ProjectPromise computers
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise biology
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise robotics
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise legos
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise cooking
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • Project Promise cupcakes
    UYP students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
July 31, 2017

Funding for program for gifted low-income Waco ISD students will lessen reliance on federal dollars

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
Follow Lori on Twitter at @LoriBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (July 31, 2017) – Project Promise – a component of the School of Education’s University for Young People (UYP) that has served gifted and talented low-income Waco ISD students for almost two decades – will continue with funding available through a Baylor community outreach grant, Baylor University Interim Provost Michael K. McLendon, Ph.D., announced today.

Project Promise had received partial funding from a federal community block grant given to the city of Waco. However, as these federal grants continue to shrink, cities like Waco that receive them also face government constraints as to how to spend the dwindling funds. With the new funding provided by Baylor, Project Promise will continue to provide tuition, transportation, meals and mentor support at no cost to around 60 students from Waco ISD to participate in UYP programs with their peers.

Additional gifts to assist Project Promise in the future may be made online to the Center for Community Learning and Enrichment Excellence Fund.

“Project Promise stands as a shining success and an example of the kind of partnership between Baylor University and the Waco community, of which we can be most proud,” said McLendon, who served as dean of Baylor’s School of Education for two years until he was named interim provost in June. “Over the past 20 years, the program has improved both the lives and educational prospects for hundreds of Wacoans from all economic backgrounds. Today’s announcement underscores Baylor’s commitment to these children, to their families and to our local community.”

Baylor’s Center for Community Learning and Enrichment began the UYP program 30 years ago, adding Project Promise in 1999 to ensure that students of all economic backgrounds had access to the summer enrichment program, said Susan Johnsen, Ph.D., interim chair and professor of educational psychology in the School of Education. A national authority on gifted learning, Johnsen directs the School’s undergraduate and graduate programs related to gifted and talented education. Paula J. Gardner serves as director of UYP and its component Project Promise.

The overall goal of the program is to develop students to aspire to higher education and to identify their strengths and interests. Most Project Promise participants attend UYP several summers in a row, beginning in fourth grade and continuing through high school. Students can choose from dozens of classes, including business development, citizenship, LEGO animation, robotics, cooking, art, travel, short-form writing, computer science, history and biology of the human body.

“For over 17 years, Project Promise has been instrumental in developing the aspirations of hundreds of our area’s low-income gifted children,” said Terrill F. Saxon, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education and professor of educational psychology. “I’ve met some of these participants and have been inspired by their stories. Some have not only graduated from four-year institutions but have gone on to law school and graduate school.”

Saxon was among a team of Baylor researchers, including Johnsen, Dr. Mary Witte and educational psychology graduate student Corina Kaul, whose research found significant long-term positive effects on Project Promise students’ likelihood to attend and succeed in post-secondary education.

Their study, published in 2016 in the Journal for the Education of the Gifted, surveyed 89 past Project Promise students, who were then 18 to 28 years old. The study found that 100 percent had successfully completed high school, and 90 percent who attended UYP for three or more years subsequently attended postsecondary education.

“Through the research, we learned that we are the only program like this in the nation for low-income kids,” Johnsen said. “And because of our longevity, we could really look at long-term effects.”

The research showed that Project Promise participants in UYP indicated perceived long-term positive education, career, social and personal benefits resulting from their participation in UYP. Former students reported that the Project Promise experience led them to select more rigorous courses in high school, influenced their decision to attend college and prepared them for college.

In 2006, Project Promise was awarded the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association in Washington, D.C.

ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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