Caleb Thomas launched Strive For Success in October. It's an academic and enrichment youth center in Iowa City.
Thomas is a former elementary school guidance counselor, and focuses his new program on third through eighth graders.
"I noticed during my eight years many students falling behind in their reading and math, as well as students not having anything positive to do after school," said Caleb Thomas.
Right now, about ten students are signed up for the program. They meet Monday through Friday for about two hours at the Iowa City Police substation off Highway 6. There's no cost, but it's up to parents to contact Strive For Success if they want their child to take part.
"It's a very rigorous program so we need that consistency from the parents to make sure the students are attending the program each day in order to achieve that academic proficiency," said Thomas.
Strive For Success largely focuses on reading and math, but also includes spelling, handwriting and helping with homework.
"We do a math program, a reading program and if we get all our work done we go and play football," said 11-year-old Eric Fredieu.
Football is the favorite part for most of the students, but Caleb Thomas stresses academics come first. The goal is to make sure the students are academically prepared for high school and beyond.
"We would expect them to decrease behavioral referrals at school. We want them to increase attendance at school. Increase positive interactions with peers and respect for adults," said Thomas.
Strive For Success is looking for more volunteers and for donations. The academic program doesn't end with the school year, Thomas is working on a four-week summer program.
A gala and fundraiser for Strive For Success is set for Saturday, April 20th. It's from 7 to 9 p.m. at the University of Iowa Athletic Club. The event includes music and auctions and the keynote speaker is former Iowa Hawkeye football player Tim Dwight.
Tickets are $125 and should be ordered by Monday, April 15th. Money from the fundraiser will go to help secure a new, larger location, pay for the summer school program and help provide transportation to the students.
For more information on Strive For Success, click here.