Ninth Grade Counts: A summer of learning & growth


The Ninth Grade Counts program was a huge success this summer. We owe a huge thank you to our amazing Summer AmeriCorpsVISTA Zack for his empathy and determination to make sure all our teens completed the program.

Ninth Grade Counts is made possible in partnership with All Hands Raised and is a summer transition program for incoming 9th graders. Ninth Graders Count provides the support youth need to start high school on the right track.

The program also offers a variety of teen leadership activities designed to develop or enhance skills like communication, conflict management, time management, basic youth development, money management, and career preparation.

This summer, teens joined us for high school and career prep sessions and college tours all summer (for a total of 65 hours!). We concluded the summer with an incredible celebration at Wings & Waves in McMinnville.

Part of their requirement to receive ½ credit at their high school was to complete a two-page essay. We asked youth to talk about issues in their community and what both the youth and BGCP can do to address these issues. Their responses are incredibly thoughtful, insightful and passionate. They put in an incredible amount of thought and leadership into their essays.

Below are excerpts from their essays. We are incredibly proud of all our Ninth Grade Counts graduates!

Ninth Grade Counts Final Essays

Andrea – Discrimination & Jobs: Challenges in My Community

In my community people rarely have money, because of their skin color or their race. People judge others on their race and skin color or even looks. People don’t always have money because it’s hard to find jobs that pay well. This has to do with school. If you slack off in school, you don’t get to graduate and finding a good job is harder.
My solution to this problem is for people to speak up and tell others about their problems, so others can help them find a solution for their challenges. People can make a company to help people in need of money to find better jobs.

My solution is to help others in need of employment by telling them where to look to find good jobs. I hope that my solution can help others and change communities to become more helpful and resourceful.

Latisha – Jobs: A Challenge Our Community is Facing

One challenge our community is facing is jobs for youths. The reason why our community is facing this problem is because there are not enough youth jobs. In order to actually work you have to be “16 “ and up also you have to have a working permit. We are facing this problem because some youth would want to work at an early age such as 14 and 15 year olds, for example. If I wanted to work at a real job I wouldn’t be able to because I would need to be 16 and up and also have a working permit.

I also think I speak for most teens out there who are not able to work or have problems with getting a job and I think that they should have better jobs that help support youth so that it would be easier for teens to work and support themselves and to get paid for putting their effort into something positive. That’s one of the issues our community is facing.

Luvenia – Bullying, Discrimination, and Racism: A Challenge in My Community

In my opinion, the most challenging things that teens are facing in the United States are bullying, discrimination, and also racism. I think that these are the most challenging things because I have faced some of these issues and have seen them in the community. They have not been a positive outcome to our environment and our social circle.

In conclusion, bullying, racism, and discrimination should not be tolerated or allowed in anyone’s communities or schools. This should not be allowed because people are equal and everyone deserves to be treated with respect, honor, love and dignity. People should also try to solve their problems and come together to avoid these issues in their communities and homes. We can fight bullying and racism by coming up with solutions such as anti-bullying programs and trying to fix these problems. There should also be home and school support for people who need or may want to receive more support.

Nayely – Housing, Wage Discrimination, & Women’s Tax: Challenges in My Community

There’s challenges in everyone’s community but in mine the challenges people are facing is rent. Rent is going up because everyone wants to move here so the popularity in Portland are getting bigger. For a single parent it can get hard sometimes because rent is so expensive. So many people are moving to the area and pushing people out of their homes. Homeless people can’t find jobs or a place to stay and we need programs to help and support them. Construction is breaking down stores or restaurants to build houses or apartments. Soon everything is just going to be buildings you can live in, but no parks or places you can go just to hangout with friends.

Also another challenge my community is facing is store pricing. The female tax makes it so that only women have to pay more for certain things, so it can get expensive. Women often pay more than men even if it’s a similar product.  A razor, exact same razor but pink, costs way more.

I see my family struggle and other close friends for example I know some close friends of mine who went through it they got kicked out of their house and they had to live 2 weeks at their grandma’s house until they got back on their feet.

The Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs can help to give feedback to companies or make posters about the issues and put them up around the community. They can also help us to learn about our money. They can get programs that talks more about money, and help others in my community find better jobs.

Malik – Racism: Challenges in my Community

Racism is history. In school youth of color have to deal with teachers who treat them differently because of their color. In the community, they learn about their own culture and history. Racist people around the community who don’t care about the community are disrespecting the culture.

One solution is for people to learn to get along and get educated. This can happen by people going to college and getting scholarships. Going to college will help people get along because they’ll learn about racism and have roommates who are different from them. This will allow people to learn about different types of people. The Boys & Girls Club can help by giving students credit in high school, which helps them stay on track to graduate.