What We Do > Learning Opportunities > StrongStart Program

StrongStart Program

We teach teens how to decide, not what to decide, empowering teens to make better decisions that lead to better lives.

DEF is recruiting partner schools for StrongStart, an orientation program for incoming high school freshmen. While often done in the summer, this active, 5-day camp-like experience focuses on building community connections, self-awareness, and leadership through Decision Skills training. Lessons and activities can also be infused into the first semester/quarter or throughout the year.

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.

  • Freshman year can set the path for a student's high school experience and the program helps create a successful path.

Program Benefits:

  • Freshmen 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.

How it works:

  • We train teachers in our content and how to deliver the program.

  • We provide all program curriculum and materials.

  • We provide best practices for recruiting students.

  • We provide ongoing support.

New partner schools receive a $5000 financial grant to pay for the cost of delivering the program.

Data shows that freshmen who stay on track have a higher graduation rate than their off-track peers. DEF's StrongStart program transitions students from middle school to high school, giving them skills and tools for empowerment and self-efficacy in decision-making.

Our annual 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)

StrongStart Infographic.png


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