UCAP (The Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program) is located in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1989, we are a unique alternative independent public middle school dedicated to reducing the dropout rates in Providence, Central Falls, and Cranston.
Since retention is one of the most reliable indicators that a student will drop out, we only enroll students who have repeated at least one grade. We then give them the chance to condense three years of learning into two through the demonstration of skills and knowledge acquired rather than time spent in-seat. UCAP is the only public middle school in the country to offer this acceleration model to at-risk students.
Each year, we serve approximately 140 seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students. At UCAP, they get the personal attention they need to develop the skills, attitudes, habits, and behaviors that will enable them to succeed in school.
It’s a huge challenge for our students, who have experienced academic failure prior to UCAP, to complete three grades in two years. The extraordinary staff at UCAP tries to help students realize that learning extends beyond the traditional school day and school building. An essential part of our work - in addition to the core academic program - is a vast array of out-of-school-time programs that we call Beyond School. Beyond School programs take place after school, on weekends, during school vacations, and over the summer. They range from academic help clubs to recreational and cultural activities. They give our students an equal playing field from which to succeed in high school.
UCAP is both a non-profit organization and a public school. The board of the school is comprised of the Superintendents of the participating school districts (Cranston, Providence, and Central Falls), which pay tuition for every student the district sends to UCAP. The tuition, which is actually slightly less than the districts’ per-pupil cost, covers most of the traditional school-day expenses.
Beyond School programs are funded entirely by private donations. To facilitate this fundraising effort, the Fund for UCAP was established in the spring of 2007. The Fund for UCAP is a private, non-profit corporation that raises, holds, and invests and disburses funds for the benefit of UCAP’s students. These funds are also used for capital needs, staff incentives, and special initiatives identified by the boards of the Urban Collaborative or the Fund for UCAP.
An independent research evaluation concluded that students who accelerate a full grade are 80-90% more likely to graduate from high school. Last year, 75% of our students accelerated a full grade. The 25% who did not, still accelerated in one, two or three of the four core subjects, and became more successful learners.
As a result of their experience at UCAP, most students graduate from high school and either continue with their education or begin productive lives of work and career.