EXCELerated Adolescent Literacy Club

The EXCELerated Literacy Club is an afterschool and during-school project geared toward at-risk secondary students in grades six through twelve. This club is designed to approach teaching and learning using four components of motivation: experience-based learning, choice, expanding sense of self, and leadership.



Students engage in a variety of activities in which they use and create texts—traditional, digital, oral, and visual, among others—to address social justice issues impacting their lives and the lives around them.


Students have multiple opportunities to make choices about the overall processes and the daily sessions.

Expanding sense of self

Students develop self-regulatory processes—their ability to identify and develop strengths and areas of need. This development leads to increased autonomy and preparation for future life experiences.


Students share in leadership roles, making key decisions concerning their individual participation and concerning group participation and direction.

Our goals

With this attention to motivational factors, it is our aim to provide needed literacy and social support for young adults that minimize decisions to disengage in critical thinking and engage in risky behaviors, while maximizing their potential to impact our world in positive ways.

The teaching and learning side of this project promotes the give-and-take processes at play when people engage in reflective, purposeful, and deliberate activities. Both novice and experienced teachers hone their teaching practices by planning and teaching within a professional learning community designed to provide critical feedback and support. Part of this growth occurs because we attend to current issues in the field—for example, Common Core State Standards, assessment, and student growth—by engaging with the relevant research literature, by critically reflecting on our teaching and learning processes, and by publishing our discoveries.


  • Our program provides young adults with opportunities to develop their literacy, social, and communication skills.
  • Students gain literacy competencies at their own pace.
  • Our activities develop high school students’ skills—social, literacy, disciplinary, and life skills—framed in authentic, real-life situations drawing on current technology and research.
  • This program also gives students with a chance to erase past academic failures.


The cost per student is $300, with a sliding scale and scholarships available. No student is denied services because of an inability to pay.

7400 Augusta St., River Forest, IL 60305
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