About Us

Mission, Vision, and Goals

Our mission is to equip at-risk kids with the skills they need to succeed in school, stay in school, and thrive in life.

The Need

Growing up is tough, growing up without the resources and support you need is even tougher. Low-income kids oftentimes experience significant trauma, are exposed to violence, have fewer role models, and often live in unstable homes. The stress of these obstacles can weigh a child down before they even get out of bed in the morning. More than 12 million US kids live in poverty and the academic achievement gap between lower and high-income families has grown by 40% in 30 years.


Since our beginnings in 1996, we have focused exclusively on working with low-income children by providing a safe place to stay after school and teaching them skills to succeed in school. We aren’t just providing care after school and we aren’t just teaching “soft-skills.” We are teaching skills that can radically change how they relate to others and behave in school. We are providing inspiration to do well in school and to stay in school. We are instilling in them a belief in possibilities – that they can be anything they want to be. We are giving them hope for a bright future. We are teaching them that they have wings to SOAR! Learn More >

Making a difference

Research shows that strong social emotional skills are key to helping kids succeed in school, be prepared for the workforce, and become positive and healthy contributors to society. Research also shows that effective social emotional education has the power to strengthen attachment to school and reduce negative classroom behavior, two significant predictors of who will stay in school through high school graduation. Learn More >

Our long-term vision is a world where there is equity in academics, opportunity, and emotional well-being for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status.

In the short-term our focus is to expand our services to reach substantially more children, both in-school and after school and ensure that the programs we deliver are of the highest quality and create measurable outcomes.

what we do
  • Operate regional programs at nine Title I elementary and serve 1,600 amazing kids every day through our afterschool program. Learn More >
  • Empower others with social emotional learning best practices through professional development workshops. Learn More >
  • Partner with like-minded organization to scale effective social emotional learning initiatives across the country. Learn More >

Our evidence-based approach fosters the mindset, skills, and confidence children need to behave well, make good decisions, and build healthy relationships. Learn More >

Our goal is to address the growing demand for social emotional learning while maintaining the fidelity and impact of our program.

Just like we teach our kids to SOAR, we also are reaching for the sky! Our bold goal is reaching 16,000 kids a year by 2020. We know that this kind of growth will best happen in partnership and collaboration with others. We are working to build a network of partner organizations that share our vision and believe in the powerful impact of social emotional learning. These partners are schools and existing afterschool providers with capacity to implement programs with a high degree of fidelity.

The foundation of any successful social emotional learning initiative is the skill and behaviors of the adults. The intensity with which we train front-line staff and the many years we’ve had to hone our approach has allowed us to learn what it takes to effectively develop social emotional skills in adults. Our professional development workshops and customized training sessions are available to organizations and schools seeking to create a culture where social emotional learning can thrive. By equipping others with the skills and practices to teach social emotional skills, we move closer to our vision of reaching as many children as possible with high-quality social emotional learning experiences.

Strategic Priorities
  1. Maintain operation of our direct service regions (Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte) with a focus on continuing to strengthen our program approach, test new program components, and showcase high-quality social emotional learning programming.
  2. Expand our reach by developing a network of partner schools and afterschool providers that want a comprehensive approach to social emotional learning.
  3. Broaden our curriculum for use within the school day so that we strengthen the link between classroom and afterschool time for those wanting a consistent social emotional learning approach school wide.
  4. Contribute to the improvement of adult practices within the field by providing professional development based on our research findings and lessons learned.
  5. Cultivate the financial support to build the necessary organizational capacity to accomplish these strategic priorities.