Reason for Being
The preparation, achievement and opportunity gaps and the digital divide between affluent and disadvantaged children are not only major challenges to education in the USA but exists globally and are inherently a growing threat to international prosperity and security and antithetical to all hope for a lasting peace and true safety in our world in the future.
Since the late 1800ís, Americans have believed in the promise and potential of public schools to bridge the gap, close the divide, manage diversity, disseminate knowledge and open the doors of opportunity. However, even today many areas of the world are severely lacking good public educational and other essential resources for all children and their families.
Therefore, many organizations and communities are seeking practical, here-and-now solutions to assist poor, marginalized, "nontraditional" students and their families in navigating and negotiating the long, complex, barrier-ridden journey from elementary school through the completion of some level(s) of higher education.
Both experts and lay people alike agree that educational institutions - public and private work - best to provide equal and quality opportunities for all children when they develop or are complemented by culturally competent, coordinated, comprehensive, child-centered, community-based resources and support. Since the 1990ís, the American Council of Education has called for the immediate creation of strong community-based education and support wherever it does not exist.
In 1998, in recognition of the enormous educational, social and health challenges that disadvantaged children and their families faced in their schools and communities, Houston Preparatory Academy, a community-based non-profit educational organization implemented U-Prep, an all-year initiative grounded in and bridging the domains of community-based, constituent-centered sociological, social work and educational practice.
Since its inception, U-Prep, has helped under-served students reach their full potential through the enhancement of their academic and social skills, the facilitation of improved educational opportunities, tailored and appropriate placements and the provision of strong social work guidance and support for students and their families,
Using collaborative partnerships and existing resources, U-Prep identifies, prepares and supports students through enhanced educational and social pathways that have the ultimate goal of increased self-liberation, a strong sense of self-determination, movement toward social equity, improved family relations and cohesion, lasting friendship development, stronger communities and ultimately an informed and participatory society.
The U-Prep model is highly adjustable, adaptable and applicable in cross-cultural urban settings in the USA and internationally.
(Click for a diagram of the U-Prep Model.)
U-Prep provides its students and families, pre-and in-service teachers and graduate level social work students with year-round, campus-and community-based experiences and services:
preparation (math, science, language arts) coupled with an emphasis on the
development of analytical and decision-making skills
Life Skills , drug and violence avoidance and conflict resolution programming
Guidance, application assistance and placement to private, vanguard, magnet schools and institutions of higher education.
Scholarships and scholarship information
Communication liaison with education professionals
Higher education counseling and support
Health and social services
Case Management and advocacy
Dovetailing and referrals to existing community-based programs
Continued stress and facilitation of strong family involvement and commitment
For more information, please contact us at
Helen M. Berger, LMSW. M.Ed. Ed.M.