High School Chapter Program

Empowering Students to Make a Difference Today and Tomorrow

Zethran Jackson with Chapter Advisor Steph Zende

Zethran Jackson was a Chapter Leader at Buchtel High School in Summit County, Ohio. In 2017, he made and shared a promise with his because I said I would Chapter Teacher Advisor, Steph Zende.

He wrote “I will get a full-ride scholarship to college.”

Fast forward to 2019, Zethran was selected to receive a full-ride scholarship to Kent State University. He was awarded the scholarship by celebrity, Steve Harvey on his television show. Zethran showed the grit, accountability and sacrifice that it takes to keep a promise. 

The High School Chapter Program empowers the next generation to make and keep promises, strengthen their self-control, and make responsible decisions while they better the world around them. Through assemblies, workshops, videos, activities and volunteer projects, students learn skills that not only improve their individual lives, but help the well-being of their communities and society as a whole. 

  • Teen suicide rates are at a 20 year high (up 34% since 2000 according to the CDC)
  • Each day in the United States, there are an average of over 3,069 suicide attempts by young people in grades 9-12
  • 12.8% of youth have experienced a depressive episode in the past year (CDC)
  • 5.4%  high school dropout rate/32.4% institutionalized (educationdata.org)
  • 1 in 5 teens have abused prescription medications (CDC)
  • 17% of people will self-harm, average age of 13

Social emotional learning has always been a focus in early childhood education. But there is a gap for effective high school programming like ours that builds skills to address teen challenges.

The High School Chapter Program builds skills to increase student success in academics, career pathways and civic engagement, while developing student leaders that contribute positively to a school’s culture and its larger community.

Students participate in monthly workshops facilitated by student leaders. Workshops are built around an engaging original animated video, discussion and activity that teach practical strategies for developing and practicing social emotional skills. Students practice accountability through promise making and sharing and develop community wide volunteer projects that deal with current social problems. There are opportunities for students to be inspired to make meaningful promises through our badge program which proposes tangible, impactful promises.

Practical benefits can also be measured in terms of cost effectiveness (Belfield et al., 2015). This method leads to an overall conclusion that the return on investment for social emotional learning programs is 11 to 1. 

Evidence confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development relates positively to all of the traditional measures we care about, including attendance; grades; test scores; graduation rates; success in college and careers; more engaged citizenship, and better overall well-being. (Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, 2018)

They say that it takes a village and in the case of the High School Chapter program it does. From the research involved in the development of animated videos and materials, to school administration, to leader training and continuous contact with Chapter Relationship Managers and the school assembly kickoff from Alex Sheen, each of the many working parts is interconnected.

This program required the development of high quality workshop materials including original animated videos, powerpoint presentations, worksheets, facilitators guides, social media literacy components, badges and volunteer projects. Training materials for student leaders and Teacher Advisors are also an integral part of the program. 

Being a part of our because I said I would Chapter has challenged me to step up and get out of my comfort zone. I have had to collaborate, speak in public, and be reliable, all of which are leadership skills that I can use in the future.” 

Smithson Valley HS student leader

This Chapter has been inclusive and meshed well with our community mentality. Students who regularly attend our workshops and volunteer events have influenced other students to join, and we have been able to include our entire school in identifying needs in our community and addressing them in our volunteer projects.”

Teacher Advisor, Memorial EC HS

Character development and social emotional learning skills have shown overall positive results, including better academic performance, improved attitudes, behaviors and relationships with peers, as well as deeper connection to school, fewer delinquent acts and reduced emotional distress (student depression, anxiety, stress and social withdrawal).

Researchers at Columbia University concluded that for every dollar a school spends on social-emotional learning programs, it sees an eleven dollar return on its investment.

Sometimes it’s hard for kids to appreciate what they have. Maybe that’s because of society or maybe that’s just part of the human condition. Nick and some of his classmates wanted to show veterans in their community that someone is still thankful for them. So, they made a promise to create care packages and deliver them to veterans.

When it came to finally passing out our care packages, my heart was deeply warmed by the gratuitous appreciation each and every veteran expressed for our care. I would go as far to say that this was a truly life changing event and one I hope to take part in more and more in the coming years.”


Funding allows us to expand our current chapter base to include a network of chapter driven schools throughout the country creating more opportunity for our youth to become the leaders that our world needs for our future. 

Your donation will directly impact the social-emotional learning and character development of students in schools across the world. $1,000 can provide Student Leaders’ Training; $1,200 can support our Teacher Advisors; $6,000 can sustain an entire High School Chapter, all for a full academic year.

because I said I would is a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. We are changing lives through Promise Cards, chapters of volunteers, character education in schools and prisons, and awareness campaigns with global reach.