WINGS for Kids started in Charleston 16 years ago and organizers say it is the only program teaching emotional skills to children in an after-school setting.
It has served 3,100 children from kindergarten through elementary school in the Charleston area with its 2 ½ hour daily program.
This year, WINGS serves about 450 students in four Charleston-area schools and 200 at the S.L. Lewis Elementary School and Heritage Elementary School in the College Park neighborhood of Atlanta.
“We see ourselves as part of the solution to the achievement gap,” said Bridget Laird, the CEO of WINGS. “We are a serious prevention program shooting toward improving graduation rates.”
The program operates in schools attended by students from lower-income families.
Researchers from Yale University have found that program develops an attachment to school, and local research showed the first group of WINGS students had a 40 percent higher high school graduation rate than students who did not attend and went to similar schools.
This year, researchers from the University of Virginia are to begin a four-year, randomized $2.8 million study of the program’s impact.