Inspiring Minds-Building Community-Transforming Lives

aka HHR   |   Norfolk, VA   |


Horizons Hampton Roads provides an academic, cultural and recreational enrichment program designed to encourage students from a diverse, limited income population to realize their full potential. Horizons, working in partnership with families and communities, is committed to the development of the whole child through experiences that build problem-solving skills, foster awareness of community responsibility, instill respect for others, and encourage life-long interest in learning. The program follows the award-winning Horizons National model by offering an effective six-week educational enrichment program to children in grades K-8 from under-resourced communities in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms Brenda Garrett

Main address

7336 Granby St

Norfolk, VA 23505 USA

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NTEE code info

Education N.E.C. (B99)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The achievement gap between under-served children and more affluent peers is already 6 months by kindergarten and, without intervention, will continue to widen to three years by the fifth grade. Low-income students typically lose more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, while middle-class kids tend to make slight gains. The losses are cumulative over time, so that by the end of fifth grade, children without opportunities can be three or more grade levels behind their peers in reading. • Low-income students are six times more likely to drop out of high school and fewer than one third of them will enroll in college • A 6th grade student who misses more than 20% of class, whose teacher reports poor behavior, or who fails math or English is 70% more likely to drop out • The high school dropout rate is a primary contributor to stagnating U.S. economic mobility resulting in over $300 billion in lost wages, taxable income, and health care, welfare and incarceration cost

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

6 Week Summer Academic & Enrichment

Horizons Hampton Roads is an academic, cultural, and recreational program designed to encourage a diverse group of students from low-income families to realize their full potential. Working each summer with over 400 children K-8 in the fundamentals such as STEM education, self-confidence boosting, life skill development, and critical thinking, we not only stop the summer education gap, but also prepare our students to enter high school ready to be successful, helping them achieve higher rates of high school graduation and post-secondary education. HHR provides educational opportunities leading to increased high school graduation and productive, valued employees and citizens. Higher academic success is directly correlated with economic self-sufficiency and financial stability.

Horizons Hampton Roads serves low-income children who qualify for free lunch in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Over 75% of Horizons students come from households headed by single parents, grandparents or foster homes.
Horizons Hampton Roads summer program allows children living in low-income families from K-8 grade to experience academic enrichment opportunities with the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) program, swimming instruction, reading instruction with reading specialists, and hands-on learning projects through community field trips. Students are served a nutritious breakfast and lunch every day to fuel them for their day. HHR is offered through a private-public partnership on the campuses of independent schools in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
Horizons Hampton Roads is based on the model of Horizons National. The first Horizons program was launched in 1964 in New Canaan, CT to serve children from low-income families in lower Fairfield County. Horizons National grew out of the original program's desire to serve more children by replicating the model at other schools, now at 44 sites in fifteen states. Horizons award-winning program has been proven to reverse summer learning loss for low-income children, instill confidence, and improve reading and reasoning skills. This evidence-based instruction model encompasses a six-week program that integrates a profound blend of academics and enrichment. Students benefit from 1:1 instruction by reading specialists and 4-to-1 student/teacher classroom ratio, hands-on STEM projects specific to each grade K-8, learning to swim, and eating a nutritious breakfast and lunch 5 days a week. Our staff of certified teachers and reading specialists tests each student before and after their participation in the program and demonstrates that, on average, students gain two to three months in reading and math skills each summer.
Reversing the Summer Slide’s life-long impact. Too often we think of summer as a vacation for our kids. But for many low-income children, summer is when they lose out, commonly referred to as the "summer slide" or the achievement gap. They have limited resources, often come from single parent families who struggle to make ends meet, and other circumstances that make summer learning not a priority, with little access to enrichment programs even as simple as visiting the library. Children who fall into the achievement gap continue to drop further behind each year. They are 6 times more likely to drop out of high school and have a 51% chance of being unemployed. The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate.
HHR's educational program has proven results to reverse the achievement gap and offers improved educational outcomes, including on-time grade progression and high school graduation rates, and greater rates of post-secondary education leading to improved overall employment opportunities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work


#1 Most Inspiring Organization 2016

Coastal Virginia Magazine

Affiliations & memberships

Horizons National 2023

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students per classroom during the reporting period

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

6 Week Summer Academic & Enrichment

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Horizons summer class size is 15 students at each K-6 grade level, led by licensed teacher and supported by a teaching assistant and classroom volunteers. 7th and 8th grade are typically 10 students.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goal is education and eliminating the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. Horizons Hampton Roads summer program for our disadvantaged youth provides a focused approach that includes science, technology, literacy, mentoring and other important areas of youth education, aiming for a 9 year summer relationship with students. Horizons has a long-proven history of reversing the achievement gap, with students averaging 2-3 month gains in reading and math skill levels during the summer as opposed to skill loss. The effects are cumulative as students return each year, and demonstrate strong grade advancement, high school graduation, and college enrollment. What makes Horizons unique is the combination of experiences that make up the program. While the summer is extremely fast paced, small classes and a student/teacher ratio of 4:1 make it possible for every participating child to gain the maximum benefit from the experience. The summer theme "Lead…That's What We Do", provides a framework for each student to focus on the habits of beginning with the end in mind, being proactive, and understanding before trying to be understood. The project-based curriculum, learning journeys and in-school programs presented by outside providers focused on striking a balance between personal, environmental, and community responsibility. 97% of students completing Horizons graduate on time from high school. High school and college students who complete Horizons return each summer as aides and mentors, providing great examples of success to current students. 29 summer 2019 HHR staff members were Horizons graduates.

Literacy is the key academic focus at Horizons. As the summer session begins, reading specialists assess all students using the public school-sanctioned STAR evaluation tools. Teachers can then best determine placement of the students and can guide them to appropriate reading materials that match their individual levels, while challenging them and strengthening their skills. Literacy is incorporated in all lesson plans. There is designated reading time each day where students work individually with teachers, independently, and as part of the entire classroom. Horizons provides 2 licensed reading specialists at each site to work individually with students identified as being below grade level. Testing at the end of summer typically shows 2-3 months improvement in skill levels. For the students below grade level receiving individual remedial help, that growth is even stronger – up to 4.6 months.

The core curriculum includes focus areas for each grade. Third graders are introduced to LEGO™ Robotics, reinforcing all STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects. Fourth graders experience an introduction to digital photography program that teaches the fundamentals of digital camera use. Chess is taught by a tournament level expert for fifth graders, mixing in a disciplined approach to problem solving and planning ahead – skills required for life success. Sixth graders visited Washington, DC, hosted overnight by our affiliate, Horizons Greater Washington. Seventh grade students work with advanced LEGO™ Robotics and visit Richmond. We partner with Nauticus to provide our eighth-grade class with a week of sailing lessons and maritime science activities as part of the Nauticus SailQuest program.

Guided by a professional and licensed faculty, children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own experience and HHR provides many of the tools needed to guide them in the direction of personal responsibility, career success and community leadership. HHR emphasizes a time-tested combination of academics, art, music, cultural enrichment, and water safety. A 4:1 student/teacher ratio is maintained to optimize the project-based learning environment, supplemented by carefully orchestrated “learning journeys" and opportunities for service to others. Additionally, all children swim 3 days a week, gaining self-confidence along with an important life skill. Children receive nutritious breakfast and lunch and a snack as part of each day. STEM project-based learning includes beginning coding, 3D design and printing, and Lego robotics.

Horizons Hampton Roads aims for a 9-year investment in each student served to allow gains made each summer to compound over the years. A year-round monthly high school program provides strategies for continued academic success, community volunteering opportunities and field trips.

Horizons Hampton Roads is a local affiliate of the nationally acclaimed summer education and enrichment program developed by Horizons National. Horizons Hampton Roads was incorporated in June, 1999. The organization is made up of a partnership among Norfolk Collegiate School, Chesapeake Bay Academy, Portsmouth Catholic Regional School, and the school systems of the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Portsmouth, Virginia. Horizons is a full-day, six-week summer academic, cultural and social enrichment program that provides educational, remedial and developmental aid to low-income public school children, grades K – 8. The Horizons program is designed for students to return each summer to provide long-term education gains. Horizons works closely with the public school systems to ensure a seamless transition from one grade to the next. Horizons students begin their new school year much better prepared to meet its challenges than children who do not enjoy the benefits of summer learning.
Horizons Hampton Roads employs 3 full-time, year-round administrative professionals, and summer staff of 28 licensed teachers, 22 teacher aides (many of whom are licensed), 10 high school aides, 6 reading specialists, and five special teachers (art and music) and about 75 volunteers. Summer staff return rate exceeds 85%, providing strong continuity of mission. Horizons is financially stable, as verified by outside audit, with no debt and endowment funds of over $1.5M. Vital school system and host school partnerships are strong, and facility availability for 400 students is not a concern. Key partners providing critical support to HHR efforts include:
• Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach public school systems provide referral of students, academic transcripts, and transportation of students from their homes to the site as well as to swimming lessons and field trips
• Partnering private schools (Portsmouth Catholic Regional School, Norfolk Collegiate School, Chesapeake Bay Academy) provide facility use, janitorial staff, supplies, administrative support and kitchen facilities for meals
• YMCA of Portsmouth, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Norfolk Parks and Recreation provide Red Cross swimming lessons four days per week at favorable costs
• Nauticus National Maritime Center, Norfolk Zoo, Chrysler Museum of Art, Slover Library, Old Dominion University, VDOT, Portsmouth Arts and Cultural Center, Elizabeth River Project Learning Barge and Hurrah Players provide weekly field trip activities.
• Virginia Department of Education/USDA provide financial support for summer meals
• Old Dominion University and Regent University provide education students as interns
• Tidewater Community College's Norfolk campus hosts a monthly Saturday program for high school students who completed the Horizons summer program.

At Horizons Hampton Roads, we know that it's important to start early, so our programs provide academic support starting with a class of kindergarteners, providing an opportunity for early intervention that addresses the achievement gap. Our goal is to keep students through eighth grade, giving us nine consecutive summers to make a difference in their lives, beyond just preparing them for high school. This time at Horizons results in transformative cumulative gains in skills and abilities that narrow opportunity gaps. Our high retention rate of over 80% showcases the students' love for the program, adding to overall success by compounding gains made each year. Test results show average gains of 2-3 months in both reading and math skills year after year for our students.

We achieved full K-8 summer capabilities in 2016 and added a year-round high school program so our students can stay connected with Horizons through HS graduation. Monthly sessions include strategies for high school success, community service, and field trips.

We now have summer staff who had previously “graduated" from the Horizons summer program, returning as high school and college student aides to help the program and serve as role models and mentors. One student started as a Kindergartener in our first year and has come back every summer through high school and college. She graduated from Old Dominion University with a teaching degree and became our first summer teacher who was a Horizons student. Another student graduated from College of William and Mary and serves on the Board of Directors.

Near term plans include further growth of our high school support. As our financial ability grows, we expect to establish a fourth K-8 site in one of the three communities we serve. Each site's capacity is limited to 135 students (15 per grade) and we currently serve less than 2% of the low-income students in any of our cities.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?



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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Board of directors
as of 06/12/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jay Iseminger

Hutchins & Hutchins

Term: 2024 - 2022

Judy Jankowski

Chesapeake Bay Academy

Scott Kennedy

Norfolk Collegiate School

Sharon Byrdsong

Norfolk Public Schools

Sterling White

Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Donna Henry

Portsmouth Catholic Regional School

Elie Bracy

Portsmouth Public Schools

Brenda Garrett

Horizons Hampton Roads

Gary Baum

Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer

Charlette Hardy

Portsmouth School Foundation/ TCC

Neil Amari

ECPI University

Steven Byrd

Select Bank & Trust

David Gettings

Troutman Sanders

Ronnie Johnson

Cherry Bekaert

Curtis Johnson


John Gray


Aaron Evans

InSource Solutions

Arielle Hankerson

Operation Smile

Timothy Iseminger

LifeNet Health

Nirali Trovato

Jay Stotlar

Hutchins & Hutchins

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/26/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data