Mission, Vision & Goals

Learning Works LogoWHO WE ARE

Learning Works is more than a school—it’s a movement. We have an approach to poor families that works, and a means to improve the city’s dropout rates. Our goal is to end poverty through education and the social/economic breakdown of families by ending the family dropout cycle. We realized the existing system just did not know how to re-engage, welcome or serve dropouts, so we started a charter school where the dropout is the customer. We see our role as advocates for the poor and disengaged, with one goal: all youth deserve a high school diploma.

The mission of Learning Works Charter School is to provide a personalized, rigorous academic program and relevant life skills to traditionally underserved students in grades 7-12 who have withdrawn or are in danger of withdrawing from mainstream education without attaining a high school diploma. The youth we serve would inaccurately be called “at-risk.” They are, in fact, “in crisis” or have already demonstrated a behavior or condition that exceeds at-risk, such as becoming pregnant, dropping out of school or entering the juvenile delinquency system.

The mission of the Learning Works Charter School (LW) is to provide a personalized, rigorous academic program and relevant life skills to traditionally underserved, at-risk students in grades 9-12 who have withdrawn or are in danger of withdrawing from mainstream education without attaining a high school diploma. LW addresses the needs in our community by offering a program to give these disengaged students an educational choice designed to meet their specific needs, distinct from the traditional programs that have not served them well.  Our model combines both the need for academic intervention and support, as well as acknowledges that this population requires wrap around, social support services. A voluntary, independent study-based charter school fits the need for a “fresh start.”  Unlike many school district alternative programs, we have a dedicated, stand-alone facility separate from other public schools that are centrally located within the local community.  The LW’s safe and professional learning center distinctly differs in appearance and feel from traditional schools.


  • All youth need a High School diploma.
  • Enroll and retain students who have not completed high school.
  • Provide support services to students (“wrap-around services”) to overcome many of the life challenges that are barriers to attending school and completing high school.
  • Assist students in attaining their first job and a plan for a career.
  • After high school, enroll students in further education or training.
  • Coordinate community and school district resources for these students and their families.


Our school focuses on what works: engaging students through Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. We lead with relationships, offer rigor and build relevance into the curriculum.

Rigor: Deliver our students a rigorous academic program that is standards-based and provides the academic knowledge and skills needed to succeed. The school uses state-adopted texts and all students have access to A-G curriculum. All science courses require laboratory experience. We are a “physics for all” school. Our school is WASC accredited.

Relevance: Provide an applied learning context that takes students into the community through field trips, labs, internships and conferences. All courses require experiences and projects tied to the curriculum and student’s life. Every student must complete a Senior Project prior to graduation. Upon graduation, LW students have earned a high school diploma and the academic and life skills necessary to achieve further success in a career and higher education.

Relationship: Engage students to return and stay in school through caring adults who mentor, counsel and support students to success. Our students perform to high academic standards when there is an adult who cares about them. Our instruction is one-on-one and small-group to increase positive relationship opportunities and rigorous content acquisition.



Staff and students at our school practice a set of principles that are the cornerstone and culture of our school. All adults and students are to practice and model these principles: fresh start, forgiveness & unconditional love, safe haven, reality & potential, desire to give back and be heard, honesty, joy & fun, and irrational commitment to students.



Our job position of “Chaser” has received national attention as a unique model to re-engage youth in their education. Chasers literally chase students back to school to complete coursework and to graduate. Chasing includes coaching, mentoring and tutoring. Chasers are current college students who have come from similar conditions as the students we serve, including previous dropouts, juvenile delinquents, and teen parents. They know the streets and work through youth in the neighborhoods with one goal in mind: graduation. They transport students to needed services, such as probation appointments, health services and whatever else might be a barrier to earning their diploma.


There are very few people or organizations reaching youth in crisis or dropouts. We are irrationally committed to understanding the dropout problem, finding solutions and disseminating results. Our outcome data shows it — we are succeeding and producing graduates.



  • Replicate our model charter school for engaging high school dropouts based on rigor, relevance and relationship
  • Develop a model pregnant-and parenting-teen academic and enrichment program
  • Disseminate lessons learned to policymakers, administrators and teachers on re-engaging dropouts
  • Effectively transition youth re-entering the community after incarceration
  • Hire and train chasers in your community
  • Engage youth in self-expression through art and science
  • Create a regional “Drop-in Center” for youth who have dropped out


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