The Liberator’s Program

El Puente Academy

About the Practice

The Liberator’s Program is comprised of ninth and tenth grade students who receive mentorship from 11th and 12th grade students and staff. This program is designed to provide mentorship, academic support, cultural opportunities, and social emotional support to Black and Latino young men. This program is ongoing but primarily occurs after school three times per week for three hours each day. These sessions include checking in with mentees, homework help, transcript review, phone calls from mentors to mentee parents, workshops on various topics such as gender roles, historical misrepresentations, and what is my legacy as well as preparation for school wide events. This practice has been in place from the inception of the ESI program and has flourished in its second year. There are a variety of staff members involved including the history teacher, a bilingual para, and a community liaison. In addition, a social worker from a partnering school and our CBO provide staff to fulfill our after school needs.

Connections to ESI and CRE Goals

Target Population/Total Students:

The target populations are ninth and tenth grade students. The program includes 35 Sankofa students (9th and 10th graders) and 20 Liberation students (11th and 12th grade). The Liberation students provide mentoring to the Sankofa students.


  • Retention rate of student participation.
  • Parental Involvement and encouragement of program participation.
  • Developing mentor-mentee relationships across different grade levels.

How did school overcome challenges?

We created a system that allowed us to track student attendance in the program. As a result, mentors were able to call the parents of their mentees and create relationships with their families. With guidance, they were able to speak with parents on the progress of their mentees which in turn created greater accountability for attendance. The program leader also called parents continuously and kept parents abreast of their child’s progress. This improved student attendance rates by 15%. In addition, we consistently showcased student experiences to the student body at large as well as invited parents to celebrate their child’s successes. This helped increase parental involvement as well as increased student participation.

How will you continue to sustain this practice?

We will continue to provide professional development to both ESI staff as well as whole staff. In addition, we will set aside funding to continue to provide discounted trips. We will continue to train mentors so that we can have a full functioning program. In addition, we will continue to have programs/events occur within the school and have ESI be a part of them as opposed to over relying on experiences outside of the school.