Project Launch Update: Informing the Future

Thursday, September 15, 2016
A group of students with their hands together in a circle

Project Launch, a partnership between TIP and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is now nearing the end of its third year and has already contributed significantly to an empirical understanding of how academic support services can most strongly influence a high-ability, low-income student’s academic success.

Thanks to a major grant by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Duke TIP has been able to enroll even more high-ability, low-income students in our renowned academic programming though this special program. At no cost to their families, Project Launch engages academically talented, low wealth students in a variety of academic activities, including TIP’s CRISIS summer program, mentored online courses, above-grade level testing, a book club, and special email notifications.

The program focuses on an often neglected group of students. Many schools offer free services to help failing students meet the minimum grade-level requirements, just to pass tests and keep up in the classroom. But having students pass tests isn’t enough.

High-ability students need to be groomed and supported along the way with extra classes and programs to challenge them. For high-ability students with greater household income, it may not be much of a problem to pay for extra classes and programs outside of school. But often times, high-ability students from low-income families have trouble accessing or paying for those extra services.

That means it’s harder for this group of students to get access to prep classes for college admissions tests or to pay the fees to apply to prestigious colleges. Furthermore, these students may feel obligated to work full-time to contribute to household bills and other costs rather than even pursue higher-education. Ultimately, this causes an imbalance among students’ educational experiences.

“We know that academically talented students come from all backgrounds. That's why providing talented, low-income students with access to programs and resources that challenge and engage them, while empowering and supporting their families, is an integral part of TIP’s mission," TIP's Director of Educational Innovation and Outreach Brian Cooper says. "Our hope is that participating in Project Launch will alter the trajectory of these students’ lives, helping them to realize their full potential.”

All of which is why Project Launch is so important. The program evaluates the relative and cumulative impacts of various academic interventions and tracks whether combinations of services can provide greater benefits for these students compared to individual interventions alone. By evaluating how low-income gifted students can be reached in the most effective ways, it is providing a foundation for intervention and support programs of the future even more capable of changing the lives of these young scholars for the better.