The George B Thomas, Sr Learning Academy

WISH LIST: $100: full registration fees for 2 students; $1000: graduation ceremony at a Saturday School Center (250 students); $3700: compensation for a certified teacher for 1 year

At the George B. Thomas Learning Academy, education takes a “back to basics” approach. Most of the 3,000 Montgomery County 1st through 12th graders who are eligible to attend belong to minority, low-income, or English as a second language families – and they trail their more affluent peers in achievement. The Academy works to reverse this trend. The method? Intensive, targeted tutoring in math, reading, and test-taking skills for two and one-half hours at "Saturday School," from October through May, with certified teachers and trained volunteers. To make sure the kids are getting the support they need, the Academy requires parent engagement in workshops on homework help, college preparation, and internet safety. Each year, the Academy meets with school system representatives to ensure that tutoring complements schoolwork; and every semester, tutors analyze report cards and adjust the next semester's studies. And it pays off: 80% of students complete the program having reached their goal of grade-level proficiency. The Academy estimates that 16,000 more county students could benefit from Saturday School. Donors, let's make room for them!