(NBC News) NBC's annual 'Education Nation' summit kicks off next week in New York.
It's a gathering of educational, business and political leaders where the focus will be on 'what it takes' to get students successfully through school into college and beyond.
For one national organization that path to success begins with a volunteer's time.
For citizen schools, the time to set a student's sights on their future begins early.
"11,12,13yrs, this is when they're deciding whether or not high school is going to be important to them, college is going to be important to them.. If college is even an option," said project spokesman Jake House.
So to help, 'citizen teachers', business professionals who volunteer with 'citizen schools', give up their time to 'teach' struggling students through an extended-day program at low-performing middle schools across the country.
It's a program that not only includes academic help but gives the kids something more; In the form of real life apprenticeships.
"Somebody from Microsoft teaching kids how to build a computer, or you've got great lawyers teaching students how to present a case, how to represent themselves in a mock trial format," House said.
"Part of what citizen schools does is it tries to bring experiences to these students that they wouldn't otherwise get," attorney John Gilson said.
They are experiences that do more than just expose kids to career opportunities.
"If you want to build a robot, if you want to be a computer programmer, if you want to teach math or practice law you can do that. You can absolutely do that. Nothing is holding you back but it starts now for you," said Gilson.
Companies too are seeing the value in getting involved with citizen schools.
"Smart companies, smart organizations get it and see wow.. If we can touch middle school students now and get them excited about science, technology, engineering, math, robotics, whatever it may be. That's gonna be my future workforce," according to House.
It's a future workforce that is learning what it takes to succeed in school and in life.
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