September 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 5 
Cover Story

Xl-ent idea

Boeing backs U.K. teen support program

When 11-year-old Ellie moved from primary to secondary school, she was considered very bright. Two years later, the British girl's attendance drastically slipped, and school officials feared she wouldn't have the motivation to take the required standard exams.

"I wasn't interested in school," explained Ellie, whose name has been changed for anonymity. "If I did go to class, I'd be there for 10 minutes and then would be sent out for [arguing] with the teacher. I stopped going and would go into town with my friends instead."

Ellie's story is one of some tens of thousands of young people in the United Kingdom who put their futures at risk by skipping school. Most 14-to-16-year-olds don't have serious problems at school. But for those who do, underachievement can trigger a chain of negative consequences, often leading to problems in years to come.

To help break the cycle, The Prince's Trust xl program provides in-school clubs in the United Kingdom for 14-to 16-year-olds at risk of academic failure. The program gives them a chance for a better life with a place to go and receive a professionally supervised curriculum, including learning new skills and planning for the future. The United Kingdom-based Prince's Trust charity organization helps young people overcome barriers and realize their potential.

Hoping to reach as many kids as possible means, however, having the necessary funds to establish xl clubs in areas around the nation, which can be costly.

With strong community ties to the city of Sheffield, Boeing made a grant to The Prince's Trust-enabling the organization to run much-needed xl clubs in this Yorkshire area.

"It's an opportunity to help turn young lives around," said Sir Michael Jenkins, president of Boeing United Kingdom. As part of its charitable investment strategy, Boeing specifically assists organizations that help improve the quality of life in the community where it does business, particularly meeting the fundamental need of youth education.

According to The Prince's Trust, students who attend the xl club have benefited enormously: exam entries have risen to 100 percent, with a 94 percent pass rate; social and school exclusions have been shown to drop from 16 percent to zero; and unemployment on leaving school drops from 40 percent to zero.

After Ellie joined the Prince's Trust xl club, her life changed. Since completing the program in 2003, she increased her school attendance to 97 percent. She also discovered her talents and interests.

"At school, I got really interested in different forms of media and started to collect digital evidence of the club's activities," said Ellie. Despite the prediction that she wouldn't have what it takes to sit for any exams, Ellie sat for English, math, computing, drama and art-and passed them all. "I hope to progress to get a college degree in psychology."

"Boeing's contributions have helped xl enormously," said Helen Parker of London-based Prince's Trust. "Without the donation made to our South Yorkshire program, we would not have been able to provide vital support to many young people."

-Katherine Sopranos


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