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CAUSE
Thank you Concord Suites for donating rooms so the teens in CAUSE could participate in the horseshoe crab census

The CAUSE program is designed to address the needs of under represented minorities in the science and education workforce and to provide quality science education through early intervention to underserved youth K-12. Briefly described, the CAUSE program trains high school youth in marine science and biology to prepare them for paid employment as Academy "CAUSE Interns," in jobs as "exhibit interpreters" on the Aquarium floor and as educators and mentors for youngsters K-8 in the afterschool Ecology Clubs. Science Summer Camps, and 8th grade Explorer Program.

Teen interns in the CAUSE program have experienced successes in employment and learning that greatly enhance self-esteem, widen horizons, and indelibly shape ambitions for future education and employment.

As "CAUSE Staff" at the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences, the teenagers have the opportunity to interact with the general public by functioning as "public program explainers." Perhaps for the first time in their lives, the teens are the expert the person to whom people will listen and learn. Equally powerful benefits result for the K-8 youngsters who have the chance to develop mentoring relationships with teenagers from their own community, who are enthusiastic role models and committed teachers.

High Impact Results: The past fifteen years of CAUSE demonstrates an impressive track record.


* 100% of CAUSE seniors have graduated from high school (150 since 1993). This fact is particularly notable given all the high schools in Camden have dropout rates that exceed 50% and the fact that teens are recruited into the program without regard to school performance

* 100% of the CAUSE Staff students have enrolled in college in the last four years

* Statistics to-date indicate that 3,247 disadvantaged youth K-12 have benefited

- (150 teenagers as CAUSE Staff participants and 3,097 K-8 students in Summer Camp and Aquatic Science Clubs)

* Qualitative measures are demonstrated through essays and journals written by the teens

One teen CAUSE Staff member, returning for her 4th year in the program, wrote about her experience in the program. The harshness and hope of her story speaks for all her peers:

My journey began at age 14...feeling totally insecure about my existence which had been ignored by my father until that point, made subject to his whim and sudden decision to claim his middle child. I was not only angry, I was sad. As I entered high school, that sadness and anger carried over making it hard to find friends or feel like more than an outsider. I had no place to be, but it wasn't long before I found one. My safe place was found most unexpectedly...in a job! CAUSE provided me with the most unlikely relationships and experiences for a mean ghetto child like myself. It has been a cushion, providing a safe place to land each time I fell. As a senior approaching the end of my journey, I am fearful of leaving CAUSE for college and finding a "real" job where the supervisors won't care about your home life, where I won't be paid to learn about myself or how to speak and how to write. I am extremely grateful and pray that I may return later as the teacher that CAUSE has inspired me to be.

Target Population: Recruited from the low income communities surrounding the aquarium, the current demographics of CAUSE teens are 41% African-American, 54% Hispanic, and 5% of mixed backgrounds. By gender, 56% are female and 44% are male.

The overwhelming majority of participants are from low income households. The K-8 youngsters participating in the CAUSE Ecology Club and the CAUSE Summer Camps reflect a similar profile and are predominantly from African-American and Latino populations.

The NEW 8th grade Explorers Program is designed to engage youth during the transition years from middle school to high school and bridge the gap to ensure youth have the adequate resources they need for success. Explorer program participants will be trained to participate in science activities, explore possible careers, develop professional and personal skills and participate in field excursions. The program runs from November to August. Participants can transition into the CAUSE Intern program in the fall.