Since 2002, Open Doors Academy has demonstrated monumental success, both in its work with its students, and in its growth (expanding to 14 sites). The key factors of the ODA model that drive the organization’s innovation and success are detailed below.

Distinctiveness of ODA Model


Family Engagement

ODA is grounded in the belief that it takes a community to raise a child. As such, parents are required to contribute a minimum of 16 service hours to their child’s programming. This family engagement contributes to the wellbeing of our students by creating opportunities to spend time in a healthy and safe atmosphere, and by enhancing parent’s knowledge base and toolset for supporting their child.


School-Community Partnership

ODA's success also depends on the close partnership with each school we serve. Our staff spends approximately 24 hours per week in the classroom at the schools, observing students, modeling appropriate classroom behavior, meeting with teachers and counselors, serving as a support to youth during transitions and often having lunch with the youth. As a result of this close partnership, we have seen an increase in academic performance among student participants.


Continuation of Programming

The success of the ODA program includes the long-term service provision offered to students and their families. Throughout middle school students focus on organizational and study skills, and four core areas of enrichment: health and wellness, arts and culture, character development, and global social education.


Strong Adult-Peer Relationships

Beyond middle school, ODA seeks to ensure that our youth have the opportunity and support that they need to graduate from high school, and complete a post secondary degree at a college institution or trade school. Programming consists of tutoring, volunteerism, internships, apprenticeships, college tours, national service learning trips, and individual mentoring and support. We are proud to have alumni at Harvard, Purdue, Cornell, Ohio State and Columbia.

4 Core Areas of Enrichment Programming


Health and Wellness

Open Doors Academy seeks to serve the “whole child” and their family by embracing a healthy living model that incorporates physical, mental, and emotional health education, models healthy life style options, and provides opportunities to practice new decision-making skills in a safe and supportive environment.


Arts and Culture

Involving the "whole child" in the arts gradually teaches many types of literacy while developing intuition, sensitivity, reasoning, imagination, and dexterity. This process requires not merely an active mind but a trained one. Arts and culture programming helps students perceive and think in new and different ways. They also help provide and extend meaning. All youth deserve access to the rich education and understanding that the arts disciplines provide, regardless of their background, talents, or disabilities. The arts help all students to develop multiple capabilities for understanding and interpreting their world.


Global Social Education

In our core area of global social education, we aim to make learning relevant and to engage our students in the critical thinking process that requires them to practice self-control, analyze information, develop a belief system, and communicate that information and value system outwardly. In engaging them in real-world issues, we seek to engage deep learning by analyzing new information and ideas, engaging in a process of reflection and metacognition, and applying this new information to previous knowledge and belief systems with the goal of long term retention and increased understanding.


Character Development

Our core area of character development focuses on helping our students to develop the types of character qualities that they will need to succeed. We pay particular attention to values such as self-control, delayed gratification, communication, self-awareness, decision-making, self-evaluation, and the ability to focus. It is essential that our youth cultivate these character traits and use them regularly so that they can grow into successful adults who are capable of interacting in a dynamic and fiercely competitive world.