The Game of Life

New program offers real-world advice and guidance for high school students 

There are few tasks in life more stress-inducing than applying to colleges or determining what career to pursue as an adult. Figuring out “the next step” — especially for those students who are the first in their families to go to college — can cause anxiety, stress and inaction at the time in a student’s life when there are lots of deadlines and decisions to make. Having an adult “coach” whose role is to support and guide them could make a big difference for students’ future success.  

With that goal in mind, Decatur Education Foundation is launching a new program this school year: the FOCUS Prep Program. FOCUS (Finding Opportunities to Create yoUr Success) Prep will pair ninth through twelfth grade students with adult volunteer coaches who will help these students explore their options, set goals and achieve them. DEF has partnered with College Avenue Consulting, which will host student workshops, train FOCUS coaches and assist high school seniors in writing college essays and submitting applications. 

Do you want to help a Decatur High School student to the finish line and beyond? DEF is looking for adult men and women who can volunteer two to three hours per month and commit to help their students for the 2022-23 school year, from August until May.

The FOCUS coach’s main goal is to provide accountability to the student(s). Throughout the program, students will be assigned tasks that correspond to their goals. FOCUS coaches meet monthly with their students to check in and guide them, answer questions and encourage them.

“There are a lot of expectations put on our high school students before you even consider the college application process,” says DEF Director of Programs and Partnerships Marie McCollum. “We see a need among our high schoolers for a little extra guidance and encouragement. We think a solution might be a concerned adult who can answer questions, keep them on task and cheer them on. We hope that FOCUS Prep will not only help students meet their goals and find their paths, but that it will help alleviate some of the stress that our students are experiencing.” 

Adults interested in volunteering as a coach can find the link under the FOCUS Prep Program. at Coaches will be required to pass a background check. 

Decatur Education Foundation is an independent nonprofit with a mission to help every Decatur student reach their full potential. If you’d like to learn more about DEF and how you can support Decatur’s kids by contributing your time or donation, please visit 

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