Horizons National

At a Glance

National Office: 
120 Post Road West Suite 202
Westport, CT 06880
Phone: 203-594-7040

Lorna Smith
People Served: 
Year Founded: 
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Focus area(s):

Early Education
College Access


Horizons National is an award-winning summer learning program serving low-income public school students on campuses of independent schools and colleges.  Across the country, Horizons affiliates challenge children academically, socially and physically, inspiring them to become life-long learners. Beginning in Kindergarten, Horizons supports children throughout their elementary and secondary school years, building enduring learning communities. 

Impact and Outcomes

Instead of experiencing learning losses, Horizons students achieve consistent gains in reading and math of 2-3 months each summer
Horizons National's network of programs boasts an impressive 94% average daily student attendance
82% of Horizons students return year after year, for an average of 6 years
Horizons students consistently achieve improved school-year attendance and high school graduation rates
Of the Horizons 2008 eighth grade class, 87% graduated from high school in May 2012, well above the national high school gradation rate. Of those Horizons graduates, 98% attended college or other post-secondary training in Fall 2012
In addition to the academic gains, Horizons students attain exposure to new opportunities and growth in self-confidence and motivation
Every Horizons student learns to swim, building self-confidence in addition to acquiring a life-saving skill

Matching Gift

A private donor has awarded $75,000 over three years that must be matched 1:1. The funding will be directed to our Leveraged Learning initiative, a nationally funded initiative to provide every Horizons student with individualized and relevant instruction in Literacy and STEM disciplines.

Mission & Goals

Horizons National is a network of tuition-free academic enrichment programs serving low-income public school students for nine consecutive years, beginning in Kindergarten.  A signature summer program with year-round supports, Horizons is recognized for excellence by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Summer Learning Association.  Our unique model creates partnerships with independent schools, colleges and universities to establish a Horizons program that serves at-risk students over a broad range of learning levels.   For nearly half a century, Horizons has served as a pivotal link between communities, public schools and private resources.  Qualitative surveys and empirical assessments show that Horizons students return to school in the fall better prepared, more motivated to learn and more engaged in their futures.  

The goal of Horizons is to close the achievement and opportunity gaps – transforming the lives of our students and providing the tools and support to become successful and confident college-bound students.


The Horizons project-based educational model blends academics with arts, sports, cultural enrichment and confidence-building activities, particularly swimming.  This combination has been endorsed by research as the most effective approach to summer learning programs addressing the achievement and opportunity gaps for families most in need.  Classes are led by professional teachers from public and private schools supported by teaching assistants, with student-to-teacher ratios of five-to-one.  Horizons’ proven hands-on approach instills a love of learning through engaging academics, computer literacy, cultural enrichment, swimming, team athletics, nutrition, special events and field trips.  Literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming inspires students to learn, achieve and realize success at every level.  Professional Reading Specialists ensure our youngest students develop the fundamental literacy skills that form the basis of their learning lifetimes.  Horizons’ nurturing classroom environments, multiple year retention of students and staff, high-quality academics and emphasis on families and siblings, are essential components of the learning community.

School-year activities, such as Saturday sessions, parent workshops, academic mentoring, college counseling, and college tours, augment the summer programs.  As programs in the network mature to full K-8 enrollment, Horizons National is developing effective high-school programming and is piloting the addition of pre-Kindergarten. 


The growing Horizons National network of 26 programs currently serves 2,465 students in 11 states, with the capacity to serve 4,000 at program maturity.  The average $1,800 program cost per student is low relative to the quality of the service provided – and substantially lower than many estimates of the cost of public school

Horizons National works closely with third-party evaluators and education data providers  ̶  including Yale University, Wireless Generation and Renaissance Learning  ̶  to assess the effectiveness of the program.  Key findings demonstrate that each summer:

  • Horizons 3-8-grade students gain an average of 2 to 3 months in reading and math skills in 6 weeks, according to STAR Reading and Math assessments.
  • According to Wireless Generation, DIBELS scores show Horizons K-2-grade students higher than national averages by between 200%-500% in every measure.
  • Horizons students are much more likely to achieve grade level reading proficiency by the time they enter 3rd grade when compared to non-Horizons students.
  • 100% of Horizons students learn to swim.
  • Horizons students show increased self-confidence, love of learning and a decline in absentee rates during the school year.

Summer 2012 network data shows:

  • Students served: 2,465 (2,252 K-8; 203 high school; 10 Pre-K)
  • 94% average daily student attendance
  • 82% annual student retention rate
  • 82% annual staff retention rate
  • Schools served: 419 (335 public; 40 charter; 44 private)
  • Students return to Horizons over 6 years on average

Growth Plan

The Horizons National office secures philanthropic funding to drive expansion and provide the entire network with a broad range of resources, guidance and funding for academic and program quality initiatives.  Each affiliate operates under its own board which accesses local philanthropy to support a Horizons program reflective of, and relevant to, its own community.  The National office budget of $2.4 million provides resources to a growing affiliate network with current annual revenue of $8 million.  The wide spectrum of philanthropy ensures the sustainability, innovation and high standards that define Horizons.  Since replication began in 1995, no site has ever closed – a testament to the strength of the Horizons model. 

To combat summer learning loss for more of the estimated 11 million students who are without summer learning options, and to ensure ongoing sustainability, Horizons is developing new regional offices in a community-focused model that will create organizational and funding efficiencies and still allow programs to maintain a high degree of autonomy.  As part of this model, selected national affiliate support functions will be decentralized, as multiple affiliates work together under a regional organization subsidized by National but paid for largely out of shared local budgets.  This approach will reach a significant number of students in a district, allowing the Regional Director to collaborate in a meaningful way with the school district and reform efforts; affect measurable change for the district;and access larger corporate philanthropic and district funding than has been available for stand-alone Horizons programs.

Currently, 75% of Horizons National (HN) funding is sourced from private and corporate foundations.  Over the next five years, as the budget is projected to grow from $2.5 million to approximately $4 million annually, while the affiliate network grows from $8 million to $18 million annually, HN will build and diversify our funding base.  Concurrently, HN will work with national foundations with place-located funding priorities to support regional organizations.

To implement its growth plan, Horizons National requires $20 million in expansion capital.  Horizons National has successfully met the goals of our 2008 business plan – our combination of program growth, revenue growth, and financial health qualified Horizons for Charity Navigators “10 Charities Expanding in a Hurry” list.  New developments have presented the opportunity for increased scale and regional impact.  With effective and efficient infrastructure in place, the only limiting factor for Horizons National to achieve significant scale and impact is philanthropic investment.  

The 5-year goals for Horizons National are to:

1.   Establish community-focused regional models in at least three communities.

2.   Increase national student capacity from 4,000 to closer to 10,000.

3.   Formalize a high school and after-school extension of the signature summer program.

4.   Implement a longitudinal study to measure the effect of multiple years of summer learning on overall academic progress.

5.   Formalize professional development strategies for teachers, particularly those related to Common Core implementation.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
120 Post Road West Suite 202
Westport, CT 06880
Phone: 203-594-7040
List of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

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Most Recent Budget

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Other Expenses (Description): Bank Charges, Dues & subsriptions, staff development, computer services $50,200.00
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Other Revenue (Description): Net Dividends & Interest income $2,182.00
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Other Expenses (Description): Bank Charges, Dues & subsriptions, staff development, computer services $45,470.00
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Major Funders

Aetna Foundation

AmazonSmile Foundation

Anonymous (Emerson Collective & Harriman)

Assured Guaranty, Ltd

Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Bezos Family Foundation


The Bouncer Foundation

Bourgeon Capital Management, LLC

The Burke Family Foundation

The Coca-Cola Company, North America Group

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. 

Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc.

The Coca-Cola Foundation

Comcast Foundation

Danbury Audi

Dyson Foundation 


GE Foundation

General Growth Properties

General Reinsurance Corporation 

Goldman Sachs& Co. Matching Gifts Program

Grace J. Fippinger Foundation

The Grossman Family Foundation 

The Hearst Foundation, Inc. 

Henry E. Niles Foundation

Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation

Home Box Office

The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation

Insomniac Holdings, LLC

The Jaffe Family Foundation

The Jeniam Foundation

John A. Sellon Charitable Residual Trust

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. 

LEGO Community Fund U.S. 

Littlejohn & Co.

MAF Architects

New York Life Foundation

Newman’s Own Foundation

Orchard Farm Foundation

Pitney Bowes 

Pitney Bowes Foundation

The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation

The Ralph and Ricky Lauren Family Foundation

Richard Davoud Donchian Foundation

Rita Allen Foundation 

Rose and Sherle Wagner Foundation

Ross Stores Foundation 

S.W.I.F.T. Pan Americas, Inc.

The Sage Foundation, Inc.

The Scoob Trust Foundation

The Seattle Foundation

Silverleaf Foundation, Inc.

The Smart Family Foundation

Social Code 

Social Venture Partners - CT 

Stanley Family Foundation

Target Foundation

Tools for Life, Inc.

Travelers Foundation

Tudor Foundation, Inc. 

United Health Group

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

W.L.S. Spencer Foundation


The Wallace Foundation 

Westfield Insurance Foundation

Xerox Foundation