SOAR grew from a series of community discussions held in 2006 about the need for low-income students in Racine to have more educational opportunities. The graduation rate for these students was about 50 percent and fewer than half of Racine adults under 25 had a high school diploma.

A steering committee met for a year to discuss the feasibility of creating a nonprofit scholarship organization. In 2006, the first Board of Directors was elected. In 2007, SOAR was incorporated and received its nonprofit status from the IRS.

The organization began operating in August 2009, hired its first Executive Director and supported the first scholarship students in Racine private schools. Demand for scholarships outpaced the ability to provide them. That first year, more than 90 children applied for scholarships and remained on the waiting list as SOAR worked to raise scholarship funds. Since then SOAR has supported 13 students on scholarship and worked to educate hundreds of Racine parents about the new Parental Private School Choice Program and to enroll their students.

Making certain students have the support they need and schools have the capacity to serve a growing, diverse population has become an essential part of SOAR’s work.