We serve at-risk school age children and youth by providing professionally supported mentoring relationships with approved volunteers. Children in our one-to-one mentoring program are predominantly from single parent homes, or are living with grandparents or foster parents. In recent years, many of our children have parents who are in jail, have substance abuse issues, or have recently in the past.
Children come to us through referrals from school counselors, from the Juvenile Court system and through parents and guardians who wish to provide their child with an adult mentor. We recruit caring adults to become mentors and matches the adults to the children in our program based upon common interests. Mentors commit to having weekly contact with the child for a minimum of one year, although the majority extends the relationship for several years. Mentors are strictly volunteers and receive no compensation for their activities. Our professional case managers train volunteers and offer ongoing support to them, the children and their families. This support has been key to helping mentors work with their students beyond the one year commitment, and on average, our Mentor/Mentee “matches” stay together for 2.6 years.
National mentoring research shows that children who are involved in one-to-one mentoring programs such as ours are less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs, start drinking underage, skip a day of school, hit someone in anger; and that mentored girls are less likely than other girls to become pregnant.
Additionally, our surveys show that children in our One-to-One mentoring program are:
However, One-to-One mentoring is not always the best fit for our children or volunteers. As a small organization, we have the flexibility to adapt our programs and processes based on what our students and community need, and have developed a variety of other programs to meet those needs:
In our REACH after school reading and homework help program, we are helping elementary school age children, primarily for our Hispanic community, with homework and orienting them to positive social norms that will help them be successful in school. We know that with a good foundation, children will be more likely to do well in school and to stay in school and graduate, thus contributing to increased graduation rates in our school system and a stronger community overall. In this program, children are matched with an approved volunteer who spends one hour per week with the child in a one-on-one relationship. Our program results show that 44% of the children enrolled finished the school year reading at grade level, compared to only 9% at the start of the year. Equally important, 94% improved their reading level, and 91% of them passed their grade.
Our Kick it Up Clubs have brought new meaning to the concept of “career day”. While we help students discover potential jobs and career fields it is about so much more than that. We are helping young people build connections to community leaders who are positive role models, who can guide them and share their wealth of experience, and open doors for them. We serve 9 different middle and high schools, connecting mentors to over 200 students each school year. These students have been identified by their counselors as being at-risk for dropping out of school, and 86% of our club participants are on track to graduate on time, vs. 70% of their peers.
At Music & Mentors, volunteers help students learn to play the guitar while building positive mentoring relationships. Many students have long days at school and don’t have an opportunity to participate in music, sports, or other enrichment activities. This program is helping to connect mentors to students, build new skills and grow their confidence- teachers report that students feel better about themselves and improved their relationships with peers and adults.
Our newest program, FASTER, seeks to support promising students on their path to college. This pilot program has 11 students involved who will be the first in their families to attend college. Mentors work with a group at a partnering school and meet with their students twice a month during the school day to help coach and guide them throughout their high school careers.
Forsyth county is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and as our community grows, so do the numbers of referrals we receive to provide mentors for children. Consider becoming a Mentor, and Be Someone Who Matters, to Someone Who Matters.
BE SOMEONE WHO MATTERS TO SOMEONE WHO MATTERS
To serve school age children and youth, in need of positive role models; to help them grow into healthy and productive members of our community.
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