A new student outreach organization in Savannah is breaking down boundaries and helping students prioritize their futures. That’s the goal of Elevate Savannah, a mentorship program that works with underserved youth at AE Beach High School.
Elevate Savannah Executive Director Crystal Auguste knows from personal experience that most students want to succeed, but many simply don’t know how.
As a high school student at a Title I school in Orlando, Florida, Auguste was selected to join a peer mediation/nonviolence club. Through this club, she visited various elementary schools in the community and was able to talk with younger students about how to make better decisions. “It was through this experience that I learned that I could really make a difference,” said Auguste.
At first, Auguste thought she would focus her selfless spirit on a career in nursing, but she soon realized she couldn’t watch people suffer. Instead, through a volunteer position with Florida-based Every Kid Outreach, she discovered her passion for youth while mentoring middle schoolers. From there, Auguste moved on to Frontline Outreach, another Florida-based youth program, where she facilitated a college access program for high school students.
“I was exposed to all kinds of students who wanted to succeed, but they just didn’t have the resources,” Auguste said. “A lot of them came from families that unfortunately couldn’t paint a picture of success for them, so they didn’t know what was available.”
Inspired to be a role model for young people and to help as many students as possible, Auguste pursued his studies in nonprofit management at the University of Central Florida. After graduating, she began working at Elevate Orlando as a teacher-mentor and worked her way up to program director.
Auguste had been working at Elevate Orlando for eight years when former board member and Savannah native George Oelschig suggested starting an Elevate program in his hometown and hiring him as executive director of the new program. .
“When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it,” said Auguste. “I really enjoy non-profit work and giving back to the community at large.” Since its launch in 2019, the Elevate Savannah program has grown from two small classes at AE Beach High School to three classes of 30 students each and the addition of a Little Elevate program for fifth graders at the school. Hodge primary. The proposals call for expansion into a program for 8th graders at Derenne Middle School followed by similar programs across the city.