For 20 years, Raising Expectations (RE) has provided impactful youth development programming for over 1500 youth in Atlanta communities starting with Decatur, East Lake, Pittsburgh, Vine City, English Avenue, Washington Park, Simpson Rd. and Hollowell Pkwy Corridor. RE targets youth that reside in the Westside neighborhoods of Atlanta (Vine City, English Avenue, Washington Park & the Simpson Rd. corridor). Neighborhoods that exhibit high rates of unemployment, low educational attainment, distress and generational poverty. Research supports the likelihood that early exposure to social disorder and violence that exists in the neighborhoods served by RE can directly impact the well-being of students and their ability to graduate high school, prepare for post-secondary institutions of learning and ultimately their ability to positively contribute to society. Specifically, RE recruits youth with a low academic competencies, poor social development, low motivation in school, behavioral challenges, high absenteeism, single parent homes, being raised by grandparents, and those who have interfaced with juvenile court. More specifically, children and youth served attend schools in the Washington High School cluster. RE exists for the purpose of reducing the impact of these barriers through positive and holistic youth development programming that follows youth throughout their educational pipeline experience. It is unique among out-of-school time (OST) programs in that it is longitudinal in its relationship with students and families. Students begin their relationship with RE when they are in elementary school and continue as they matriculate through secondary and post-secondary schooling.
Raising Expectations, Inc. was created in 1995 when co-founders, Maria E. Armstrong and Tangee Allen engaged in a conversation about the African American community and its struggles as college students at Georgia State University. At the time, they only had the desire to use their time and energy to volunteer to tutor students directly. Little did they know that eventually they would decide that a formal organization would be necessary. It became very apparent that although the children served originally and still today were living in poverty, had parents that did not complete high school and in many instances attending underperforming schools just to name a few of their challenges; they were eager to join the caravan of cars that would head off to the library to read, write and tackle math problems. It was in that moment, that although their own college graduation was just around the corner that the women realized that something had been started that those children and families relied on and most importantly that was making a difference in their lives.