Circle Urban Teen Programs

Ages 13-18



The Problem

In the United States today, the vast majority of schools are finding it difficult for their students to achieve high marks on standardized testing. This is due, largely in part, to the fact that more and more students are falling behind in reading comprehension.  According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress Report…

  • 67% of all 4th grade students read below proficiency.
  • 69% of all 8th grade students read below proficiency.
  • 64% of all 12th grade students read below proficiency.

According to James Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, every area of school curriculum depends on the ability to read fluently. It is the “gateway skill” that leads to success both academically and professionally.

As students enter middle school and recognize they have fallen behind, they often tend to show signs of what we call “Academic Shut-Down” (ASD). These signs include…

  • Loss of hope in their personal ability to close the achievement gap.
  • Disbelief that the education system can lead to future success.
  • Lack of concern for today’s decisions leading to tomorrow’s outcomes.

In a middle grade classroom of 28 students, it is now common to have 8-15 students displaying symptoms of ASD. These students typically begin searching for ways to mask their academic inaptitude and often become extremely difficult for even the most skilled teachers to handle.

It becomes nearly impossible for a school to score in the 70-90th percentile on standardized testing when there is a large population of students experiencing Academic Shut-Down.

This problem can be solved!


Our Solution

While the problem is demoralizing to the student, discouraging to the teacher and daunting to the administrative staff – it can be solved.  Circle Urban Ministries addresses the issue of low standardized test scores using three interrelated strategies:

    • Self-Image Building: According to Dr. Lyon, Branch Chief of The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, “Poor reading produces a perception of stupidity and dumbness to peers and clearly to the youngster who is struggling.”  This self-perception marks the start of what we call “Academic Shut-Down” (ASD).  Through a series of Character Education programs and activities we rebuild the self-image of struggling students.  With renewed, positive self-images students regain confidence in their inherent ability to close the achievement gap.
    • Language and Literacy Development: Reading is the “gateway skill” that leads to success both academically and professionally.  The Carnegie Corporation states 35% of all American children enter school unprepared to succeed. This means over one-third of the student population start school with poor language and literacy skills.  With reading proficiency being the heart of the issue, every activity is carefully crafted around reading comprehension to foster language and literacy development. This approach provides students with the opportunity to develop a command of the tools necessary to achieve academic and social success.
    • Life Skills Training: Circle Urban Ministries works with teens to identify their natural talents and prepare a plan to capitalize on those talents. Students learn socioeconomic development strategies; the correlations between financial literacy and education; the 5 key steps to getting better grades and much more.  Teens who were once struggling in school are empowered with the confidence, motivation, knowledge, tools and discipline necessary to maximize their potential.

Circle Urban Ministries’ coaches and mentors go above and beyond the traditional expectations to prepare students for success, both academically and socially. We work with great tenacity to overcome the challenges of Academic Shut-Down.

Our Model

Taught by a trained staff, Circle Urban Ministries runs research-based, age-appropriate programs and activities to provide students with…

  • Social and Emotional learning
  • Life Skills
  • Language and literacy concepts
  • College Preparation

All programming is based on the following 5 Core Factors which are research-based indicators of student success:

  1. Academic rigor
  2. Development of College and Career aspirations
  3. Parental involvement and knowledge about College and Career readiness
  4. Social and cultural support (peer, family, mentor)
  5. Access to College and Career information (for students and parents)

Our approach is threefold: 

  1. to inspire students to adopt positive, post-secondary aspirations for education and careers,
  2. to support students academically to ensure their ongoing matriculation toward high school and college, and
  3. to provide practical assistance to students and their parents to ensure their transition to selective enrollment high schools and post-secondary institutions.

Circle Urban Ministries' Teen Ministry Programs

Circle Urban Ministries is working towards the day every neighborhood is considered a great place to live, learn, grow and succeed.

The Attic

The Attic brings together teens from the community on the top floor of the historic Circle Urban Ministries building to share a meal and relax to a movie.  The movie is then followed by a discussion geared towards life skills and social and emotional learning.

Just Us Girls

Just Us Girl is a weekly mentoring program for girls ages 13-18 focused on helping young ladies with effective decision making strategies, life skills, college preparation and providing God’s beautiful young ladies with tools to sustain character & integrity while embarking on their journey toward their future college and career choices.

Bibles & Basketball

Bibles & Basketball – is weekly bible study for teens followed by game of spirited basketball.

Go! (How to Share Your Faith)

Go! (How to share your faith) – is a four week program designed to help teens gain knowledge and information about Christ.  Teens will discover God’s heart of evangelism and how to share their faith with their peers.

Leadership Bootcamp

Leadership Bootcamp – is designed to seek out future leaders and cultivate their leadership skills as they prepare to move toward their college and career goals.

Men Mentoring Men

Men Mentoring Men is designed to demonstrate the principles of manhood to teens while empowering and motivating them towards post high school aspiration.

Contact Our Director of Teen Ministries

Get in touch today and explore how you can share the love of God with our amazing teens