Sojourner Truth School
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
The Student Leadership Council of Sojourner Truth School along with Principal Claudia Aguirre (R) and Guidance Counselor Mayela Gaytan (L) and More2Life's Trey Dye (C).
Our most ambitious More2Life project in 2018 has been our partnership with Sojourner Truth School in Harlem, New York. We first visited the school in April where our team held assemblies for the children, with a special emphasis on teaching growth mindset principles and rewarding high achievers from the school year. Our more formal partnership, which includes a significant financial commitment, began in August. The opportunity to have a Student Leadership Council was made possible from funds donated by friends of More2Life.
Once labeled a "Failure Factory"
The New York Post once called Sojourner Truth and schools like it "failure factories" because the educational system in New York City seemed stacked against them. However, after meeting the school's leadership, we saw an incredible opportunity to help incentivize learning for the students. This commitment has included a cash donation of $10,000 as well as providing much needed personal hygiene and clothing items for students. Incentives provided thus far by More2Life have included gear for students who meet the school's goals (attendance and extra online study) as well as gift cards from Chipotle.
To get the partnership rolling, Trey Dye from the More2Life team, created "hype" videos from the BYU football team for specific classes on the SJT campus. We've posted one of the videos below. This helped to introduce our partnership to the kids and was received very enthusiastically throughout their school. We also had the help of Nate Morley (natemorley.com) and Christian Hansen (hintcreative.com) who conceptualized and designed new logos for the school. We were able to use those logos on t-shirts, hoodies and hats to provide as incentives for learning and build pride in the school.
Sojourner Truth faces challenges that are very unique. Approximately 30% of their students are classified as homeless (they could be living in shelters, doubled up with other families in small apartments, etc.). More than 90% live below the poverty line. In 2016, only 2% of the school's 280 students scored a 3 or higher on the state math exam, while only 10% scored a 3 or higher on the state reading exam. This trajectory is improving under the school's new leadership.
We'll be back with the students in June and hope to have an even greater impact in 2019.