Amphibious Achievement is a dual athletic and academic mentorship program for inner-city Boston Public Schools students. The goal is to promote “success in and out of the water” through a combination of aquatic sports and college-preparatory athletics. Inner-city high school students come to MIT every Sunday and learn the techniques of rowing and swimming through creative drills such as having them balance a cup of water on their forehead while swimming backstroke. On the academics end, they are taught critical reading skills using The Economist, math fundamentals with engaging YouTube videos, and grammar through competitive rounds of Grammar Jeopardy! All of the opportunities are provided free of cost to 50 student-athletes, or "Achievers."
What was the inspiration behind Amphibious Achievement?
The motivation for Amphibious Achievement came the experience of co-founders Noam Angrist ’13 and Ron Rosenberg ’13 as student-athletes and athletic coaches in the Boston area. They were inspired by parents who approached them at the end of the season and raved that their student-athletes were harder working, more disciplined, had better time management skills, and were overall more successful. Wanting to latch on to these spillover effects from athletics and continue to mentor their athletes in the classroom and in life, yet unable to find a local program that combined athletic and academic mentorship in a rigorous way, they were moved to create one.
How did Amphibious Achievement get started, and how has its work evolved?
After almost eight months of working from the ground up – including months of writing grants for seed funding, developing a unique curriculum, acquiring sponsors and community support, recruiting mentors and recruiting BPS youth – Amphibious Achievement launched on March 13, 2011, with 15 Achievers and 8 MIT mentors. Since that first day, Amphibious Achievement has more than tripled in size and has become a presence in Sports-Based Youth Development (SBYD) groups in Boston. We now recruit Achievers from six different Boston Public Schools and our Mentors come from four colleges across Boston (MIT, Northeastern, BU, BC). Today, we serve 50 Achievers and have 38 Mentors. In the past year we have also received recognition from the community, with publications in the Boston Globe, US Rowing, and USA Swimming. Next semester we are also launching a chapter of Amphibious Achievement at Northeastern University!
What has your impact been on Boston youth?
We have seen an average improvement of 16% in critical reading, 5% in math, 15% in rowing and 17% in swimming over the course of one semester. In addition, through a supplemental program that we have launched called Committed To College (CTC), we work with our students through the college application process and are proud to report a 100% college matriculation rate! Finally, beyond an athletic and academic program, we are a mentorship program, and over 90% of our students report having at least one role model in their life after participating in Amphibious Achievement.
How has the PSC played a role in your work?
The PSC enabled us to launch Amphibious Achievement. When Noam and Ron came up with the idea for the organization, they brought it to the PSC to seek advice about how to take the next steps. PSC staff played a huge role in advising them on what steps to take and providing them with seed funding to launch the program. To this day, Amphibious Achievement has continued to work closely with the PSC, continually seeking advice and bringing new ideas for the program through the PSC.