StrongStart for 9th Graders

A 9th grade summer bridge program built around Decision Skills

Successfully Transition from Middle School to High School

DEF's StrongStart program helps students transition successfully from middle school to high school, empowering them with skills and tools for self-efficacy in decision-making.

Held in the summer just before the start of 9th grade, this active, 5-day camp-like experience focuses on building community connections, self-awareness, and leadership through Decision Skills training.

Student GPAs Improved

Program Benefits

  • 9th graders establish a strong and more confident foundation for high school
  • Students learn self-efficacy and self-moderated behavior
  • Students are encouraged to engage in school academic and social activities
  • Students learn fundamental life skills to take beyond high school
  • Students learn processes to handle their new empowerment in new small, medium, and large responsibilities
  • Student chances for success are improved, demonstrated by a statistically significant rise in GPA and credits completed
  • Students add depth to college and career readiness with Decision Skills
  • Rising seniors have an opportunity to act as leaders to their younger peers

85% of StrongStart students would recommend
85% of participants would recommend StrongStart

​Evidence of Success

Our StrongStart program evaluations show students have fun, feel better prepared for high school, and recommend the program to other freshmen.

Preliminary analysis of outcomes indicates StrongStart may increase:

  • GPA on the order of 0.3 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Total freshman credits by 0.4 (0.5 is a semester class)

​What Schools Have Found

  • Students like the program.
  • Teachers like the program.
  • Data indicates that program participants achieved increases in both GPA and completed course credits.
  • 9th grade year can set the path for a student's high school experience and the program helps create a successful path.​

How It Works

  • We train teachers in our content and how to effectively deliver the program.
  • We provide all program curriculum and materials.
  • We provide best practices for recruiting students and mentors.
  • We provide ongoing support.

StrongStart Students