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Learn About

Our Student MLP Program

Program Overview

   Mustang Leadership Partners (MLP) was established in February 2009 to provide girls and young women with an opportunity to develop, practice, and improve relationship skills, responsibility, social accountability, self-awareness, and self-confidence—all of which are mirrored in the mustang’s behavior. Providing hands-on science experiences and equestrian training, the MLP program is grounded in the belief that horses are mirrors to our energy systems and teach us important life lessons.The MLP program serves girls who attend the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA), Tennessee’s first all-girls public charter school, which serves grades 6-12 and has a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


   The vision for the MLP program was born from a partnership with CGLA and Carter Farms in July 2008 to host the school’s inaugural orientation session for 75 girls. During the orientation session girls had an opportunity to meet Charlie, a wild mustang, on his very first day on the farm—an amazing experience as the girls prepared to embark on a new educational and life journey. After the orientation session, it was clear that CGLA students could benefit from a structured equine program providing expeditionary science experiences and leadership development.

Academic Standards

The MLP program requires a year-long commitment and dedication to several academic and citizenship standards:
• High attendance rate
• Proficiency/Excellence in horsemanship skills
• Building relationship skills: collaborative, cooperative, and harmonious community (between mustang and girl and with peers)
• Developing accountability to leaders, peers, and self
• Developing self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-esteem
• Managing emotional congruency and stability: assertive, authentic, and respectful communication skills (with mustang and peers)
• Accepting responsibility for all decisions made and all actions taken
• Developing leadership and community building skills
• Developing tools to embrace change: positive attitude toward changing behavior and a willingness to try something different

To participate in the MLP program, CGLA students must complete an application and selection process based upon their commitment to the above standards and their current academic standing. The program can serve up to sixteen students (eight middle school and eight high school).


   Meeting two hours each week throughout the CGLA school year, the MLP program exposes girls to a variety of hands-on experiences grounded in science, life skills, and leadership development. All three components are closely intertwined within core lessons as girls are challenged to make connections between their work with mustangs and their own lives. With an inquiry-based learning approach, lessons integrate numerous equine experiences, team building activities, question and answer sessions, and reflection opportunities.

   All MLP lessons are aligned with science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) concepts and state curriculum standards, which helps our students to gain critical academic knowledge that ties to their school-day work. Our goal is to provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that bring STEAM concepts to life for MLP students and inspire students to want to pursue STEAM careers.

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