Our Unique Model
Our year-round program builds academic excellence, character, and physical well-being in urban youth in grades 6-12. Our approach levels the playing field for youth from under-resourced communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul and significantly impacts academic achievement and future aspirations. We emphasize the:
- Value of hard work
- Rewards of persistence
- Importance of setting and achieving goals
Goals for our students
- Develop upstanding character
- Improve academic performance and motivation toward learning
- Strengthen personal health/wellness and fitness
- Experience a variety of meaningful opportunities
- Create and fulfill post-secondary goals
We believe ALL youth…
- Can and will learn given a positive environment and engagement
- Should have the same opportunities to thrive
- Are valuable contributors to society, now, as middle and high school students.
- Should be a part of our decision making process, programmatic design and leading the way for community engagement projects
What We Do
Beyond Walls’ intensive, year-round youth development model combines squash instruction, academic mentoring, college preparation and community service. We remove barriers to participation by providing transportation.
- Three 75-minute academic support sessions per week with one-to-one support help students succeed in the classroom.
- Three 75-minute sessions per week of squash instruction at the University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness Center promote fitness, persistence, concentration and sportsmanship.
- Numerous community service projects throughout the year instill the value of hard work and giving back.
- While traveling to participate in national squash tournaments, students tour area colleges and universities to introduce them to a wide variety of post-secondary opportunities.
Student and Parent Commitment
- Beyond Walls students spend an average of 9 hours per week with the program after school and on weekends.
- Weekday practices are equally divided between academics and squash.
- Weekend activities include squash tournaments, life skills sessions, field trips and community engagement projects.
- Students must have excellent attendance and show good behavior in order to be eligible for weekend outings and out-of-town trips.
Our approach fosters a strong community of support and meaningful relationships that blossom over a period of years. Our results are remarkable:
- 94% of students report they are certain they will graduate high school on time
- 100% of seniors graduate on time, almost half with honors
- 80% are certain they will go to college
- 100% of graduating seniors accepted into at least one four-year college or university
- 90% of Beyond Walls seniors enroll in PSEO/college courses
You do not have to be an amazing athlete or an exceptional student to be a part of the Beyond Walls team. Beyond Walls is looking for students who have good attendance, and who demonstrate great attitude and effort.
Our goals is to empower students to be fit, healthy and active through the racquet sport of squash. We accomplish this by combining:
- Squash instruction
- Competitive play
- Wellness and nutritional awareness
- Fitness curriculum
- Emphasis on sportsmanship and teamwork
Squash’s connection to higher education and strong networks makes it a natural partner for our ultimate goal: college success. It instills mental toughness, helps students become fit, and lead healthier life styles. The network of diverse professionals created via the sport of squash is also an asset to our students that will impact them for life.
Learning squash is analogous to mastering an instrument; players must develop technique and memorize the right steps to move and strike the ball. Beyond Walls emphasizes two critical skills to becoming a better player: the grit to persevere through a challenge and the optimism that mistakes in training and competition teach us how to improve.
Students receive 3 sessions of technical squash instruction each week. Most of the program’s participants’ first exposure to the sport comes through Beyond Walls programming. Students have the opportunity to progress from first time beginner all the way to advanced intermediate player through their time in program.
Students participate at a state-of-the-art facility that provides access to nine squash courts and an amazing workout facility designed for college students. Beyond Walls participants have the opportunity to see and experience campus life while visualizing themselves attending college one day.
Competitive Play and Travel
Beyond Walls students compete in match play in a variety of settings. Students play individual matches at local St. Paul and Minneapolis area clubs and within the internal Beyond Walls community. Students also compete in regional and national tournaments all over the United States. Beyond Walls is an enthusiastic participant in SEA (Squash + Education Alliance) events throughout the year. Past trips have included New York, Boston, Madison, Toronto, Chicago and Detroit.
We combine rigorous academic, athletic, mentoring and life-skill support for our students over the course of their entire middle school, high school and collegiate years.
- 75 minutes of academic support and enrichment per day, 3 days a week, for 33 weeks
- A trained college mentor for every Beyond Walls student
- Individual learning and goal setting plan for each Beyond Walls student
- Ongoing academic assessments focused on reading, writing and math
- Consistent communication regarding progress with each student’s advisor and parent/s.
Starting in 6th grade, students receive academic support led by a licensed teacher and college students (homework help, one-to-one tutoring) and participate in a rigorous academic curriculum that focuses on math (Khan Academy and IXCEL) and literacy foundational skills. Students also take part in community engagement projects, life-skill workshops and a wellness curriculum (Mindset Matters and REACH).
Beyond Walls students start the College Prep program as freshmen and continue through all four years of high school. During this time, each student gains exposure to life on a college campus, tournament travel, and enriching summer camps. Students research colleges, attend informational workshops, attend ACT/SAT prep courses, receive academic tutoring and personalized advising, and get help with college, scholarship, and financial aid applications. The ultimate goal of the College Prep program is to ensure that students learn pertinent skills that will help them to establish a successful high school career both academically and socio-emotionally, while promoting the practice with academic skills so they are prepared to succeed in high school, college, and in life.
- 5-6 different college tours per year including both in and out of state
- College experience presentations from numerous current college students
- Individual scholarship application support
- Monthly individual progress check-ins
Beyond Walls students spend more than 40 hours participating in enrichment programming each year. Beyond Walls recruits experts to deliver interactive seminars on topics such as family health and wellness, violence prevention, financial literacy, diversity awareness, and self-representation. Each time students travel on a trip for squash or academics, opportunities for visits at cultural institutions such as, museums and parks are a priority. Many trips also include visits to colleges and boarding school campuses as well.
Numerous studies have shown the importance of having non-parental caring adults in a child’s life to serve as role models and guides. Beyond Walls students have the opportunity to be paired with trained college mentors from the University MFLP program and the greater Twin Cities community. Mentors and mentees share interests, play squash, pursue academic opportunities, and build strong friendships. Mentors sign on for a year commitment, but often stay connected well beyond that time.
Beyond Walls places great emphasis on nutritional awareness and a holistic sense of wellness for all of our students. Students are not only exposed to nutrition-focused lessons, but also practice good eating habits in all practice, trip and tournament environments. The Beyond Walls Wellness Curriculum includes components of personal and social wellness, sportsmanship, building resilience through sports and understand ones ideal performance state.
Beyond Walls students each perform a minimum of 8 hours of community service each year. Projects often evolve organically, based on community need and student interest. Over the past several years, Beyond Walls students have completed park cleanups, collected books for Books For Africa, collected winter coats, organized items for a thrift store, served dinner at homeless shelter and made blankets for those in need.