Raymond John believes that there are few things more important to a community than a high-quality public school. When his parents first immigrated from Korea, they struggled for years to save enough money just to move into a neighborhood that had access to a great school. Raymond’s belief was strengthened while he attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a city where the majority of low-income families lack access to a high-quality public school within their neighborhood. His observations motivated him to help launch a volunteer-based initiative to support low-income high school students through the process of applying to college and other post-secondary opportunities. Raymond saw that students did significantly better when their school had a culture that empowered every student—not just a select few or the highest achieving—to pursue education beyond 12th grade, and how that culture can be used as a vehicle to build stronger school communities. This experience laid the groundwork for the mission and vision of 12+, which Raymond co-founded in 2012.
12+ addresses the opportunity gap by partnering with high schools in Philadelphia to help redefine what is possible for their students. Through its innovative school-based PLUS Centers, which act as dynamic resource hubs open to the entire student body every day, 12+ Fellows execute a wide range of whole-school, research-based programming. From individualized advising, mentorship, and academic guidance to grade-level workshops and school-wide events, 12+ ensures that all of its graduates leave with a dedicated post-secondary plan. Since its inception, 12+ has helped each of its school partners, and the over 2000 students they serve, measurably improve their graduation and post-secondary outcomes. This success has helped foster new narratives and meaningful cultures that incite sustainable, school-wide change.