Youth development programs pursue positive impact in Edgehill

Summer is in full swing, and many area nonprofit organizations are providing vital and enriching programming to youth in the summer. For several years, Vanderbilt Community Relations has supported youth programs that work to help keep students engaged and on track in the summer months to maintain the academic gains they made in the school year. Two of those organizations—Horizons at University School of Nashville and Salama Urban Ministries Summer Camp—are doing impactful work in one of Vanderbilt’s closest neighborhoods, Edgehill. Both organizations are recipients of Vanderbilt Community Impact Fund grants. 

Horizons at University School of Nashville 

The Horizons program mission is “to close the achievement gap by providing underserved children access to high-quality academics in an engaging summer program.” 

Horizons students spend six weeks each summer on the USN campus engaged in activities ranging from academics to cultural enrichment experiences through art, music, drama, field trips and swimming lessons for every child. A key to the success of this program is that students are given an opportunity to attend for eight consecutive summers. Ninety percent of the students return every summer, and 100 percent have learned to swim.

In 2013, Horizons National invited University School of Nashville to establish the first Horizons Program in Tennessee. Horizons National is a transformative, educational summer enrichment program serving low-income public-school students with a broad range of academic abilities. Beginning in 2014, 15 rising first graders from Carter-Lawrence Elementary joined Horizons at USN for the first six-week summer program. These program pioneers will stay with the program throughout their elementary and middle school years, adding a grade level of 15 students each summer until the program serves 120 rising first through eighth graders. 

The Horizons at USN Program commits the following to the students who participate: They will leave the program stronger readers, stronger mathematicians, and ready to start the school year with a renewed belief in their potential to achieve. This summer, Horizon is excited to expand the high school program, which launched in 2022, with the addition of rising 10th grade students. 

Salama Urban Ministries Summer Camp 

For nearly 40 years, Salama Urban Ministries has served the Greater Nashville area by providing robust programs to help youth thrive regardless of barriers, and make sure that under-resourced youth meet their full potential. Salama’s efforts are primarily focused in the Edgehill community. 

Salama serves students in grades K-8 during the school year and grades K-12 during the summer session, providing curriculum concentrating on academics, performing arts and spiritual development.

Under Salama’s new model for youth development called The Salama Institute, youth are engaged in programming at Salama up to 650 hours per year. The high school graduation rate of former students is 100 percent, and more than 90 percent of those students move on to college and advanced education.

Each summer, Salama’s summer camp provides an opportunity for students interested in the performing arts to audition and produce a high-quality production. This summer, the youth production will be Peter Pan, Jr. 

 These programs at USN and Salama are providing children with engaging summer experiences that promote academic growth and personal development. Vanderbilt is honored to support these remarkable organizations that are dedicated to empowering youth and helping students reach their full potential.