At-home learning resources and academic programs are essential, but they are frequently inaccessible to our students in Baltimore.
There are approximately 86,000 students in Baltimore City, and eighty-three percent of these students are from low-income backgrounds (71,380 students). The SOAR platform aims to help Baltimore families connect their children with at-home learning resources and outside-of-the-classroom learning opportunities. According to the KidsCount Data Center, there are approximately 78,000 children in Baltimore who come from single-parent households, and 7,000 children live in households with their grandparents. Furthermore, 13,000 children come from working low-income families and 20,000 children come from low-income families where no adults work. For many students in Baltimore, academic resources and educational programs are both non-affordable and non-accessible because of competing priorities such as basic access to shelter, food, and healthcare. The SOAR platform directly engages Baltimore City students and their families with a platform where at-home learning resources and educational opportunities can be funded.
In 2012-2013, Baltimore City Public Schools administered a climate survey to 5,430 staff members, 39,206 students and 12,143 parents.
Based off the parent survey results, Baltimore City Schools recognized the following questions as major areas of future improvement for the district: "The school has programs to support the student's emotional and social development" and "The school can connect me to resources in the community".
The American Psychological Association conducted a study on correlations between education and socioeconomic statuses, and their findings indicated that, "Children's initial reading competence is correlated with the home literacy environment and number of books owned. However, parents from low-SES communities may be unable to afford resources such as books, computers, or tutors to create this positive literacy environment.
Students in Baltimore deserve the chance to showcase their talents and potential
Too often, students in Baltimore City are always characterized from a deficit-driven perspective. They are always characterized as underperforming or not meeting expectations. Conversely, the SOAR platform allows students in Baltimore City to be characterized from an asset-driven perspective. There are amazing students who are conducting meaningful work in Baltimore City Public Schools. Unfortunately, these promising students are rarely discovered or exposed. With the help of their teachers, the SOAR platform will empower students in Baltimore to have a voice, showcase their potential, and connect with educational resources or academic programs
Even though academic programs and learning resources are essential, staff personnel do not have a platform to connect their students to these resources or support
In 2012-2013, Baltimore City Public Schools administered a survey to principals and over 5,000 teachers called the "VAL-ED" survey. In essence, the survey is designed to assess where school leaders are assisting teachers in providing specific services to students. According to the survey data, many school leaders and teachers were "below basic" in planning, implementing, supporting, assessing and monitoring their efforts to connect students to external learning communities and academic resources.