Press Release

Citizen Schools Texas Participates in Houston’s Fifth Annual Energy Day Festival

Houston, TX – A check of the calendar showed it was a Saturday, but for nearly one hundred Citizen Schools’ Houston students, school was in session – and they couldn’t have been more excited. Because on this day, the tables were turned and they were the ones teaching!  That was the experience for 90 Jackson and Edison Middle School Students participating in the Fifth Annual Energy Day Festival held earlier this month.

Hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and the Consumer Energy Education Foundation (CEEF), the annual Festival offered a day of fun and games for thousands of students and their families, while at the same time exposing them to many of the careers available in the energy industry.

More than 70 exhibits and demonstrations were designed to spark students’ interest in STEM-related studies which is what Citizen Schools is focused on every day in Houston middle schools.  Through hands-on, project-based apprenticeships taught by volunteers from local businesses, students connect lessons being taught during the traditional school day with their real-world applications beyond the classroom – and that’s exactly what our students did at the Energy Day Festival.

Working with the Children’s Museum Science Workshop, students held a “Blast Off” challenge, using straw rockets created by attaching straws to plastic pipettes.  Attendees could take the challenge by simply aiming their rocket toward the target.  But it was our students, teachers for the day, who showed participants how to adjust their angle of trajectory, cut down on surface area and improve their accuracy.

In another demonstration, Children’s Museum Science Workshop students channeled their creative side to showcase aspects of the oil industry.  Using just a fish tank and foam board, they built a model of both offshore and on-shore oil rigs. To simulate oil drilling, they schooled participants on extracting the liquid gold from a sand filled cup, using a straw!

Experts predict that there will be nearly two million unfilled STEM–related jobs by the year 2025.  Students who participate in Citizen Schools show measurable improvement in their learning; alumni of Citizen Schools enroll in college 22 percent more often than other low-income students. What’s more, surveys of eighth graders nationally show only one-third express an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as a college major or career, but 80 percent of students who take Citizen Schools’ apprenticeships taught by STEM professionals showed interest in the STEM fields.

“Every year, we are excited by the opportunity to partner our middle schoolers with professionals from our community,” said Greg Meyers, executive director of Citizen Schools Houston. “Participating in the Energy Day Festival allows our students to take what they’re learning and share their knowledge with the tens of thousands of attendees. It’s an invaluable experience.”

Media Contact:

Matt Ellis
Ellis Strategies, Inc. | 617-278-6560

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit


Expanded Learning Groups Pledge $620 Million to Boost Middle School Education


Washington, DC—November 10, 2015—Twenty education-based organizations from across the nation today announced a collective investment of more than $620 million to enhance learning for over 1.3 million 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders over the next five years through the new Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative. The announcement was made during the White House Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve 21st century students.

“Success in high school relies heavily upon students’ engagement during the middle grades,” said Jason Cascarino, CEO of Spark, which provides apprenticeships to middle school students and is a member of the group of 20. “When we tailor 7th and 8th grade learning to meet students’ developmental needs, they build the non-cognitive skills and social capital to transition well into high school.”

Citizen Schools, the organizer of the initiative, incorporates apprenticeships and academic support by partnering with public schools to provide expanded learning opportunities in seven states.

“The expanded learning model proves that middle school students enter high school with a greater chance of graduating and going to college, especially in low-income communities where there is a greater opportunity gap,” said Steven M. Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools, who spoke at the White House summit and announced funding for the new initiative. “Providing academic enrichment in subjects like STEM and access to mentors who are scientists, engineers and doctors motivates students and gives them a chance to imagine themselves in those careers.”

Every 26 seconds a student drops out of school. Data shows middle school students who take part in Citizen Schools’ expanded learning programs are more likely to reach their full potential:

  • Participants show 2.5 times more interest in STEM fields
  • 71% of students graduate from high school on time, compared to 59% of their peers who do not participate
  • 61% of the students enroll in college, compared to 41% who do not participate

In collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, these twenty organizations created The Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative:

Their combined $620 million investment is supported by corporate and philanthropic donations, including funding from foundations, individual supporters, and some existing public grants. But, the consortium says, to ensure all middle school children are fully prepared to participate in a true 21st century high school experience, public funding is necessary to scale evidence-based best practices and programs.

Media contacts

For Citizen Schools

Matt Ellis 617.278.6560

For Spark

Rachelle Damminger 856.904.5767

ADVISORY: White House to Host Summit on Next Generation High Schools

Office of the Press Secretary

November 5, 2015

ADVISORY: White House to Host Summit on Next Generation High Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, November 10, the White House will host the first-ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools, hosting students, educators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who are reinventing the high school experience to better empower students to seize opportunities in today’s  economy and expanding access to innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching and learning.

In addition to outside leaders, the program will also feature senior Obama Administration officials, including:

·             Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
·             Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
·             Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer
·             John King, Delegated Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
·             Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
·             France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation
·             Tom Kalil, OSTP Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation
·             Roberto J. Rodríguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education

WHAT:          White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools
WHEN:          TUESDAY, November 10, 9:00AM to 4:30PM
WHERE:        White House South Court Auditorium

If you have any additional questions, please email with the subject line “High School Summit.”



Chelsea Students Discover Justice through Citizen Schools and Boston Law Firm WilmerHale

Innovative after-school program gives students real-life experience “practicing” law


Boston, MA— October 26, 2015— It’s almost impossible to turn on the television today without seeing a courtroom drama. For most students, these shows are all they know about the law.  Middle schoolers from Chelsea’s Joseph Browne School are getting a unique chance to learn the ins and outs of practicing law as part of an apprenticeship offered by Citizen Schools and Discovering Justice.

When the closing bell rings, these middle schoolers board yellow school buses for a trip to the international law firm WilmerHale in the heart of downtown Boston.  Here, about 20 attorneys are waiting to get to work.  The lawyers are paired with students to teach them about legal advocacy and critical reading, writing and thinking skills needed to be an attorney.  The students actually argue a case as if they’re in a real-life trial or appeal.

Started 20 years ago, Citizen Schools is a national education nonprofit which partners with public middle schools to expand the learning day by three hours, providing targeted academic support, homework help, and hands-on learning opportunities. Based in Boston, Citizen Schools operates in Massachusetts and six other states utilizing “Citizen Teachers,” like those at WilmerHale, who give their time provide skills-based learning.

Attorney Jared Cohen recently received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his work with this apprenticeship and says working with the students is a reward in itself.  “Watching them get involved in a case and get excited, and most of all, watching them get confident speaking and answering tough questions about a case is fantastic.  Some of them are uncomfortable and unwilling at the beginning, but they get confidence and are able to do it.  Watching that is a lot of fun.”

Citizen Schools has demonstrated the value of providing Expanded Learning Time (ELT) as a means to help close the gap between students from higher and lower income communities.  “We often hear about the critical gap in education, but it’s not an achievement gap, it’s an opportunity gap,” says Pat Kirby, Executive Director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts.  “Our programs put opportunities right into the hands of these students…opportunities they might never otherwise have.”

Supporting 8th graders through high school and beyond


BOSTON, Mass—October 26, 2015—If a child can succeed in the 8th grade, he or she has a greater chance of graduating high school, attending college and securing a good-paying job. That’s why AT&T is supporting Citizen Schools’ expansion of its national 8th Grade Academy (8GA) program this fall with a $250,000 contribution through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature education initiative.

Launched 20 years ago, Citizen Schools is a national educational nonprofit focused on extending the learning day for high-need middle school students by providing direct instruction and support in key subjects, and project-based apprenticeships taught by volunteers from local businesses.

Citizen Schools’ 8th Grade Academy program (8GA) is a bridge between middle school and high school, providing basic and real-world skills students need to transition successfully to high school and graduate. An analysis of 8GA outcomes in Boston finds participants are far more likely to attend, stay enrolled and graduate from high school in four years.

Launched in 2008, AT&T Aspire brings AT&T employees, nonprofits and community members together to help equip students with the skills they need to lead the digital, global economy.

Media Contact:

Matt Ellis

Ellis Strategies, Inc. | 617-278-6560

 About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. In 2014, nearly $127 million was contributed or directed through corporate-, employee-, social investment- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature education initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring.