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Mustangs on the Move (MOTM) at John Muir High School has been meeting students’ needs for afterschool educational and enrichment programs since 2003. Flintridge Center provides tutoring, homework assistance and credit recovery classes, and leads a successful community partnership of more than a dozen nonprofits and two local colleges, which together offer 20+ programs. The wide range of activities includes college preparation, life skills, performing and visual arts, music, capoeira, yoga, cooking and mentoring. The programs are connected to Muir’s in-school curriculum through a project-based learning approach.
MOTM provides a safe place for teens to go after school and before a parent returns home from work. The programs run on campus Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m., with some activities taking place during lunchtime and on weekends. They broaden skills and knowledge, foster positive personal development and provide students with critically needed academic support to enable them to graduate on time. A student advisor is assigned to each program, which gives teens an opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience and earn community service hours. Students who regularly participate in one or more of MOTM’s programs have a higher school attendance rate than those who don’t. They are also more likely to score proficient or advanced on state tests.
Muir is the lowest performing of four public high schools in the Pasadena Unified School District, with a 2011 API score of 650. (The state target is 800.) It is located in a commercially blighted area with few resources for teens. Nearly a third of the students are from single-parent homes, and more than three-fourths qualify for the federal free-lunch program. These students face numerous challenges that present obstacles to school achievement.
In 2003, Flintridge learned from Muir students that the school offered no consistent after-hours programming and that due to the lack of recreational options, students were getting into trouble with the police simply for gathering in public spaces. “There’s nowhere for us to go after school. No one wants us,” they explained. In response, Flintridge led the community effort to create on-campus programming. This became the partnership known as Mustangs on the Move, named after the school mascot. Since that time, with Flintridge’s oversight, MOTM programs have served as a critical enrichment and support system for Muir’s vulnerable teens, and are an important factor in the school’s improving academic scores and graduation rates.
Mustangs on the Move programs do not take place on PUSD holidays or minimum days.
MOTM is partially funded through a five-year 21st Century High School ASSETs Grant through the California Department of Education. While these funds provide the bedrock of our program’s sustainability, they do not cover all costs.
In addition to the 21st Century Grants and Flintridge's support, Mustangs on the Move has sought and received support in the past from the Annenberg Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund and The Rose Hills Foundation.
All interested nonprofit organizations are invited to participate in MOTM's collaborative vision to encourage productive futures for our young people.
Please contact Program Director LaWayne Williams to be added to the Mustangs on the Move email list or call (626) 396-5610.
Photos: Courtesy of Mustangs on the Move (upper right) / Mark Anderson (below)