FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
IS THIS a full-time Day School?
Yes, we will follow the district's calendar and operate on a similar 9-3pm-ish M-F schedule as a replacement for your 7th and/or 8th grade education requirements. We are a private/independent school.
Are you Accredited?
No, but that doesn't really matter at this stage. All public high schools and most private ones do not require accredited status to be accepted. Please know that we do not qualify for accreditation as we are not credentialed teachers, but instead act as mentors in a project-based environment.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The Empower Project offers a self-selected tiered structure and asks that those able to pay at a higher tier help support the socio-economic diversity so needed in a healthy learning environment. Following are proposed monthly costs of tuition with special projects funded funded by donation as necessary.
We are reserving an equal distribution of enrollments for each tier that families qualify based on your household income. Please know that only you and our business administration team will know at what tier your child entered.
Tier 1 - $12,000 ($1,200 / month)
Tier 2 - $9,000 ($900 / month)
Tier 3 - $6,000 ($600 / month)
WHAT ABOUT ACADEMICS / CORE COMPETENCIES?
It is true that this is not a traditional school environment, but it doesn't mean we fail to address core competencies... quite the contrary! Within each project block there are incredible opportunities for developing skills in reading, writing, math, science and history.
Here’s the link to the State standards of achievement: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/ that serve as milestones of a student’s matriculation.
In many cases these standards are subjective and in all cases a single standard will never accurately assess an individual’s competencies and what is core to one may be different that what’s core to another. It’s our goal to have the kids know for themselves their core competencies, as well as areas that need some work, and for them to know how to use the strengths and strengthen the weaknesses all while staying true to their core. Please see Project Blocks for more details on how we are meeting the standard Core Competencies.
WHAT ABOUT Transitioning to HIGH SCHOOL?
Matriculating our kids without maturing them leads them into a tunnel of lost opportunity and the further they go, the harder it may become to find oneself and lead a truly inspired life. As Stephen Covey says in the 7-Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” What end do we have in mind for our children? Best we don’t limit it to a good (paying) job. How about instead a life full of purpose and passion! Rates of depression, drug use, and obesity are just a few of the markers of kids matriculating without maturing. By stepping outside of the system we can see more clearly for ourselves the potential pitfalls and choose for ourselves a better way. Is this too much to ask of an incoming 9th grader? We think not and are ready to prove it to you!
Research has shown that, “the ability to persist in the face of adversity” is the single best indicator to successful completion of any task, including high school and college, and that 10 years after high school people value the friendships most of all. We have developed a program/platform for our cohorts to kickass in high school and college, on their terms, and to develop lasting relationships with mentors and, most importantly, other cohorts along the way.
It is true that coming from a unique program can result in some challenges for students re-entering a traditional school. Hardships may include having to take additional (online) courses and/or tutoring to place in advanced algebra, for example, and students may choose to challenge themselves with (free) self-assessment tests and test preparation tutors. For students really focused on getting into the most selective private schools and universities this extra work will be a positive marker on their applications. The transition back to a more traditional school (should they choose) will be another shining example of their "persistence in the face of adversity".
WHAT IS THE ENROLLMENT PROCESS?
Enrollment is limited and applications will be processed first come, first serve. Parents and students will meet in-person giving us all a chance to know each other and answer any questions before being asked to sign our agreement that confirms acceptance of rules and codes of conduct. At that time a non-refundable deposit must be submitted to reserve your child’s spot. Cohort size will be limited to 14 boys, with a minimum of 7 per group.
WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS SPECIAL NEEDS?
Please know that while we will consider all applications, we must be realistic about our resources and ability to provide the most ideal environment for your child. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your child’s needs prior to submitting an application.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS STRUGGLING?
We anticipate that all children will have difficulties at times throughout the program. We promise to provide personal attention to each kid and help them to find strength in their struggle. We also see this as an opportunity for the other cohorts to engage in empathic responses caring for each other (mentors included!) creating a brotherhood and interconnected web of support. Often times these struggles may appear more at home and we want each family to know that we are available to answer questions and provide valuable resources along the way. Among these valuable resources will be referrals to education and childhood development professions in the community.
WILL THERE BE HOMEWORK?
Yes, although we don’t use that word! There will be ‘assignments’ and ‘opportunities for discovery’ that may involve Reading, Watching, Interviewing, Journaling, Project Specific Work and other forms of engagement outside of program hours. While we will not be collecting or grading assignments, we will be sharing stories and other findings throughout each project block.
WHAT ABOUT AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS?
Working with the local community, we can assist in finding suitable after-school programs including Sports, Music, Dance, Drama, Arts, and Community-Based Service to name a few. Our cohorts may also organize among themselves, with a little help, to create enriching experiences of their choosing as part of our Life Projects curriculum.
WHAT SCHOOL SUPPLIES ARE NEEDED?
Each project will have unique requirements that cohorts will gain resourcefulness as we work together to gather materials. Otherwise we will need basic writing materials and a (simple) laptop computer if possible. Again, we will practice resourcefulness to make sure every kid has what they need.
What about Food and drinks?
We ask that cohorts enjoy breakfast before arriving and we encourage them to bring a healthy snack and hearty lunch. We believe good health is core to our kids’ success and look forward to working together to keep them sustainably energized. In that regard, we kindly ask parents avoid sugary and/or caffeinated snacks/drinks and we promise to make available lots of fresh water. Additionally, we are striving for a Zero-Waste environment and request that packaging be reusable or recyclable.
HOW CAN PARENTS GET INVOLVED?
We welcome and encourage sharing knowledge about your child and your input as to desired programming, and we occasionally have opportunities to contribute and volunteer your time directly. Please let us know if you have any special interests / skills, as well as if and when you’re available to help. We do want to create a sacred space for our cohorts and request that parents do not drop-in uninvited (although our door is always open ;)
WHO ARE THESE BOYS?
These are really great kids. Kind, funny, and courageous. Like most boys their age, they are bored with school and are lacking deep meaningful relationships with other boys. If I'm their parent (and I was/am), I'm heartbroken that they aren't more engaged; and concerned where they appear to lack focus or drive. These boys and their parents are quietly looking for something that fits. Status quo here in Marin is pretty good and the need for change may not be that great, but the desire is still there and the need won't go away. Parent and child alike want a more engaging environment filled with meaningful experiences and lasting friendships. They come from all backgrounds. They are smart and engaging. They have room to grow and are open to it. Great kids and compassionate parents that want something more and are brave enough to go for it!