Mentoring, Semi-Annual Report : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Project Strive Mentoring Program

A Semi-Annual Report

By Karen Rigdon

What is Project Strive? Project Strive is a program designed by the Rotary service organization to help motivate students who are struggling academically. It targets young adults, in their senior year of high school, who are not achieving their maximum potentials. The program uses incentives and rewards, such as scholarships and job offerings, and coaching and mentor relationships to encourage the youth in positive modes. This is a first year project in International Falls. Rotary began the project, under the direction of Dr. Jeffery Hardwig, with eighteen at risk high school seniors.

The eighteen students that originally signed up for Strive made a pact as a member of this team. They promised to do three things:

1. To show up at school

2. To do their assignments

3. To maintain a positive attitude

They also attend monthly breakfast meetings at the Holiday Inn with their mentors, coaches and other students in the program. Meetings have been informative, entertaining and inspiring.

Rotary could not bring this project to successful fruition without community help and support. Individuals were needed to participate on committees for mentorship, job hunting, scholarships and grants, banquet planning, and fundraising. Various clubs and organizations have been approached for financial aid and manpower and have graciously responded. Grant money is already available. Long range plans and programs are being developed.

I believed this was an incredible opportunity for our masters cohort. On August 19th I attended a STRIVE Coalition Committee Meeting and asked if they would be interested in having committed members of our group involved in the project. A motion was made as such, seconded, voted on, and carried. The minutes of the meeting are included in my notebook as well as minutes from all meetings to date.

Many studies have demonstrated the impact that mentoring can have on young people to give them an inside track to a successful life. Fortune Magazine states, The number one indicator of success for a child is a good relationship with a caring adult. The 1989 Louis Harris Poll discovered that 73% of students that had mentors said that their mentors helped raise their goals and expectations. In this poll, 59% of mentored students improved their grades. The Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America 1995 Impact Study showed that young people with mentors were:

 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs

 27% less likely to begin using alcohol

 53% less likely to skip school

 33% less likely to hit someone

A study done in 1988 by Proctor and Gamble on mentoring programs in Cincinnati schools showed that young people with mentors were more likely to:

 stay in school

 attend class

 achieve and aspire to better grades

 go on to college

The bottom line is most evident- mentoring youth empowers them. I am proud that members of the M.Ed. Partnerships Cohort became actively involved with Project Strive. The benefits of this involvement are numerous. First, is the benefit to the participating seniors. Second, is the benefit to all that help others and receive those immeasurable intrinsic rewards. Several benefits to the participating Cohort members include:

 being part of an action-results project

 receiving free mentorship training (approximately eight hours)

 receiving graduate education credit for involvement

 positively impacting the community with our skills

 working with community leaders from local clubs and organizations

 having the opportunity to work outside our usual environment

Cohort participants in Project Strive are expected to attend eight breakfast meetings and help plan the programs for them. They also attend the monthly evening meetings (as scheduling permits) with the community leaders and other mentors. The eight-hour mentor-training program prepared them for their responsibilities as youth mentors. Once the cohort members were matched with a youth, a documented portfolio of all contacts, activities, progress, and challenges was kept in a confidential manner. Presently we are working with a local employment agency to get a head start on locating above- minimum- wage summer jobs for the students. We have also checked with the students to recognize their progress for their plans for the fall.

My personal involvement is listed in my portfolio in detail. The list includes duties such as arranging for press coverage and guest speakers, buying gifts for Christmas for the students, buying door prizes for the breakfast meetings, setting up a new breakfast restaurant that was less expensive, requesting the Chamber of Commerce to help us with job searches, making reminder phone calls to students about meetings, and building a positive relationship with my mentee, Jeremiah.

Over the months the Strive mentors have gotten to know the eight students who have remained in the program. At our last breakfast meeting it was clear that we are no longer ill at ease. We all laughed and joked together and the atmosphere was filled with caring for the students and their futures. As a mentor I am warmed by the confidences that Jeremiah trusts me with and I have hope for a wonderful life for him. We are phone buddies, I send him cards, we have been to Rotary together, and we have had breakfasts and lunches together. I see Jeremiah not as a student at risk but rather as a young adult of promise.

What is a Mentor?

 A guide

 A wise and trusted friend

 A good listener

 A caring coach

 A role model

 A responsive adult you can lean on

 Someone who will help you develop your own vision

 Someone who has been there

Responsible mentoring is a structured one to one relationship or partnership that focuses on the needs of the young person; fosters caring and supportive relationships; encourages young people to develop to their fullest potential; and helps a young person develop to his or her own vision for the future.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 1999


Karon, thank you. That was a very good report. I would hope that a lot of the data and information about mentoring will be brought up again when we spend more time in class talking about instruction and changing student behavior.


-- Anonymous, January 29, 1999

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