Project SOAR

Project SOAR (Success, Opportunity, Achievement and Responsibility) is a school-based educational and leadership program grounded in our philosophy that students who are engaged with peers from diverse backgrounds, in an active learning environment, will develop the skills they need to succeed in school, career, and life.  Project SOAR is modeled after the FIVER Children's Foundation, serving 500 children in NYC and boasting a 95% graduation rate. We believe that our Project SOAR initiative will experience similar results!

Cradle Beach is working in collaboration with the Buffalo Public schools serving 270 children in five schools (International Preparatory School, Lovejoy Discovery School, Lorraine Academy, South Park High School and Southside Elementary). Students in the program are offered academic support that complements the teachers' classroom lessons at the time they are being taught.  This model allows students to remain engaged in the classroom while minimizing any delays in the learning process.  Moreover, additional assistance is coordinated for children who require more attention and guidance in order to prevent academic delays. Focused on empowering tomorrow's leaders, Project SOAR provides resources and events that encourage leadership in the youth we serve.  We accomplish this in many ways, most notably by asking our middle school aged Project SOAR students to tutor their younger peers after class, and by asking them to help plan and implement activity stations during SOAR retreat weekends.  These students earn a special title, Youth Leaders.

Programming is provided to students through three different components, these include:

In-School Daily Programming: The program is currently delivered to 270, 3rd -  8th graders with 23 of our AmeriCorps Members.  At each school, the team provides human service and academic support services for students in small groups, at a ratio of either 10:1 or 12:1.   The team works with teachers, administrators and district leadership in the delivery of the program.  Meetings are conducted routinely and, when necessary, strategic sessions held in order to optimize impact on increasing student's academic achievement.  We provide intensive support early in the program, and as the students begin to show positive progress, we shift our level of support in some areas while increasing supports in other areas.  The team works directly with students on an individual and group basis, building on academic lessons that connect directly to the district curriculum and the new Common Core Learning Standards. 

School Weekend Program: Several times through-out the school year, Project SOAR students will come to Cradle Beach for a weekend overnight retreat.  These retreats are non-academic but offer hands on experiential learning that support the current classroom curriculum.  Each weekend has a special theme that is lead by the Cradle Beach AmeriCorps members and Project SOAR Youth Leaders.  We collaborate with several community partners for these retreats and utilize our own facilities such as our low ropes course to create team building activities.  These retreats also focus on conflict resolution and problem solving, creative thinking and college and career planning,  and our Youth Leaders are responsible for planning a play station that aligns with the retreat's theme.  On the last weekend retreat, all parents are welcomed to participate in the activities and to attend our "graduation ceremony." 

Eight-Week Summer Program: Project SOAR students will all attend our 10-day residential summer enrichment camping program in addition to the activities during the school year. This inclusive program builds the emotional and social intelligence of the children (a key to future success) and is involved in a five year research study with six professors from the University of Buffalo Graduate School of Education.  Through this partnership and research project we are able to demonstrate the positive value and unique impact that the summer residential program has on the children.  It also helps to prevent the "summer slide" which has a devastating negative impact on the academic gains that so many low-income children have made during the school year. 

For the remaining six weeks of summer, Project SOAR AmeriCorps Members and staff meet with their students once a week for summer enrichment activities, through a part of our program we call "Summer in the City".  Weekly activities consist of reading projects, visits to parks, libraries, and recreation, in order to maintain our relationship with the students, and helps to prevent the "summer slide".  Summer in the City culminates with five large field trips throughout those six weeks.  Project SOAR students explore and learn in unique settings, like the hills of Simon Griffiths Sculpture Park; a Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education sailboat coasting along Lake Erie, Rochester's Strong Museum of Play; a misty voyage to The Falls on The Maid of the Mist, or by catching a pop fly at a Bison's Baseball game.  Older Project SOAR students have the opportunity to visit local colleges, meet with community leaders and explore high schools.  


Project SOAR Evidenced-Based Outcomes

Project SOAR has benefited from Cradle Beach's commitment to research and evaluation.  Through the efforts of Cradle Beach staff and external evaluators, a clearer picture is painted on the positive impacts of Project SOAR on the ABC's: Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance. 


  • The rate of absenteeism for Project SOAR participants is 15 percentage points lower than the district average over the past three academic years with almost 1/2 of the days missed compared to the average Buffalo Public Schools student. In other words, the participants in the Project SOAR program spent 10 more days or 2 weeks more in the classroom compared to the typical student in the Buffalo Public Schools. In Year two, Project SOAR students attendance rate was 93% compared to the BPS rate of 86% or Project SOAR students spent on average 12.6 more days in school compared to the average BPS student.


  • For both years of Project SOAR teachers of the program participants clearly articulated a positive impact on participating in class, behaving well in class, volunteering, coming to school motivated, and getting along well with others as well as improved academic achievement.

Course Performance

  • For both years of Project SOAR, in comparison to the control group, Project SOAR participants had higher grades in each of the four quarters as well as higher grades in math, science, ELA, and social studies.  
  • For both years of Project SOAR, in comparison to the control group, average scores were higher for Project SOAR students on both the Math and ELA NYSAA tests. Furthermore, a higher proportion of Project SOAR students scored at the proficient level (3 or 4) than did the control group in Math and ELA. The higher averages on NYSAA tests are consistent with the grade data reported above.
  • In Year 2 of the grant, Project SOAR student grades showed no decline from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, avoiding the typical decrease in academic achievement over the course of the academic year.

As we continue to research the program and its various components, we will update this site with new research reports, white papers, and research articles.  For more information, please contact Sarah Petersen, Director of Project S.O.A.R., Cradle Beach.


Research Reports


Standardized Measures of Success: How Project SOAR Elevates Student Achievement 

Project Soar Evaluation Report- Updated w NYS Scores 3-18-2013 1.pdf

How Cradle Beach's Summer Enrichment Program Influences Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement

Project SOAR Research Study, Year 3, August 2013

Project SOAR Control Group Research Study, Year 2, October 2012

Project SOAR In-depth Attendance Analysis, September 2012

Project SOAR Control Group Research Study, October 2011

Project SOAR Comparison Group Research Study, June 2011


Research Summary Reports

Project SOAR Executive Summary, Year 3, August 2013

Project SOAR Executive Summary of Control Group Research Study, Year 2, October 2012

Project SOAR Executive Summary of Control Group Research Study

Project SOAR Research Summary, June 2011


To view a video with further information on the importance of Summer Learning, click the YouTube link below.


Cradle Beach - 8038 Old Lakeshore Road - Angola - NY - 14006  

Ph: 716-549-6307   Fax: 716-549-6825