“Students teaching students.” This is the motto of Summerbridge Cambridge (SBC), a non-profit organization founded in 1992. The dual mission of SBC is to prepare motivated Cambridge sixth through ninth graders for success in college prep high school courses and to encourage talented students in high school or college to become teachers. Particularly, SBC addresses the needs of ethnic groups that are under-represented in the field of education. SBC trains these future teachers in curriculum design and classroom management while matching interested students with high school or college-age mentors.
SBC serves an important role in addressing the needs of the Cambridge Public School system. At the city's sole public high school, 40% of students failed one or more courses, according to a 1996-97 Cambridge Public School system Student Data Report. This rate was higher for students of color—49% for Black students and 46% for Latino students. To improve these statistics, SBC works to prepare the students for success by focusing on writing and science skills, providing individual attention and preparing them to take algebra in high school. The organization also incorporates service learning into its curriculum, with students participating in yearlong and one-time projects.
Summerbridge Cambridge has successfully achieved both parts of its mission. Every summer, 122 students commit to the program for two years at a time, with the understanding that they will receive two hours of homework every night. Still, the daily attendance rate for this program averages 97%. These students have also scored higher on the California Achievement Test (CAT) after enrolling in SBC. Fulfilling the second half of its mission, 68% of SBC teachers enter the field of education. Students from the first graduating classes are rejoining the program again as teachers. It is apparent from this success that Summerbridge Cambridge is a functional program that molds academically successful, empowered, and inspired individuals, most of whom will make lifelong contributions to the field of education.