Hess Corporation was honored at the second annual Citizen Schools Texas Luncheon on Tuesday for its grant to establish LEAP (Learn, Engage, Advance, Persevere), a three-year pilot program that supports at-risk middle school students in Houston.
LEAP is a drop-out prevention pilot program in two Houston Independent School District (HISD) schools, which was created by funding provided solely by Hess in 2013. The program aims to increase the positive factors in youths’ lives and instill a commitment to learning during the formative middle school years.
The targeted demographic is English language learner students from Edison Middle School and Jackson Middle School who are identified as being at-risk of dropping out before graduating high school.
Zhanna Golodryga, Hess CIO and Senior Vice President of Services, accepted the award on behalf of the company and praised the students, families and organizations involved for making a measurable impact on the lives of young students.
“Hess is honored to be recognized for our commitment and support of the LEAP program,” Golodryga said. “Many kids are falling through the cracks at very early age, and they may never get back on track with their education.
Every child should have big dreams and a chance to reach their potential. LEAP is keeping them in school and helping to make that a reality.”
Golodryga is encouraged by the early results. LEAP has 441 students enrolled today, 15 percent more than year one in 2013. More than 40 percent of those students participate in two or more programs.
The company worked with the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) to form LEAP. As it does everywhere there are Hess operations around the world, the company was looking for an opportunity to make a lasting, positive impact in health, economic development or education.
“We focused our efforts on the community located near the Hess Tower,” said Stephanie Blair, Greater Houston Community Foundation Services Manager. “After exploring various options we designed and continue to serve as program manager for LEAP, choosing partners to work with the Edison and Jackson Middle Schools, which are only a few miles away. GHCF is proud to partner with Hess to achieve their goals with strategic social investments.”
The average lifetime cost to the nation of a single dropout is approximately $290,000. HISD has a reported 11 percent dropout rate, which amounts to an estimated $5.8 billion dollars each year. The LEAP program is designed to reverse this trend by incorporating hands-on, engaging programs and opportunities that include after school and summer activities. “Our kids are fortunate to be exposed to Citizen Schools instructors and the Edgenuity credit recovery software,” said Armando Lujan, principal of Edison Middle School. “We’ve had kids who dropped out of school, heard about the program and are knocking on the door to get in. When they go through this program they catch-up and see what they can accomplish. We love it because the kids we were losing, we are no longer losing.”
”I call on other businesses to join us in this noble cause,” urged Golodryga. ”All of us, working together, can change the direction of these young lives for the better. As a business leader, employee of Hess, mother and grandmother, that’s inspiring and unbelievably heart-warming.”