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Mentoring Program

April 5, 2006

Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency received an Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, U. S. Department of Education, Mentoring Program grant award. The mentoring grant provides funding for three years to establish academic, social, and emotional assistance for at-risk students in grades 4, 5, and 6 by volunteer adults. The program’s objective is to have 180 highly qualified volunteer adult mentors supporting at-risk youth in a school-based setting by summer 2008. The mentoring program is a partnership between Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Quad Cities, Clinton County, and Muscatine County. The program is also involving the Center for Active Senior Life Options, United Way of the Quad Cities, Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, and Scott County Retired Teachers Association in the recruitment of volunteer adult mentors. The partnership between Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency and area service organizations is a collaborative effort for positive youth development.

The mentoring program is a weekly visit by a volunteer adult mentor with an at-risk youth at the student’s elementary school. The mentoring program includes recruiting, training, and supporting mentors so that the student, mentor matches will be sustained. The research findings indicate that sustained student, mentor matches over a period time, at least six months, have a positive impact on student academic, social, and emotional growth. Big Brothers Big Sisters quickly became a partner because Big Brothers Big Sisters already operates a school-based mentoring program. Big Brothers Big Sisters have the ability to recruit and support mentors as well as complete background checks on the volunteer adults. Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency provides enhanced training opportunities for mentors, stronger communication link between the classroom teachers and volunteer adults, and technology support for data gathering efforts. The mentoring program provides positive adult role models so that at-risk youth stayed motivated to be successful in school.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency anticipate over 100 adult volunteer adult mentors in area elementary schools for the 2006-2007 school year. Bettendorf Community School District is currently piloting the program at Armstrong Elementary School. Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency reading, mathematics, and technology consultants are developing a web-based training component for the adult mentor volunteers to provide techniques for enhancing reading and mathematics support to the at-risk youth during the weekly mentor visit. Big Brothers Big Sisters and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency will host a Mentoring Conference, spring 2007, in three area cities (Clinton, Bettendorf, and Muscatine) to celebrate the accomplishments of the volunteer adult mentors and recruit new mentors. The conference will be keynoted by nationally known mentor advocates that have successfully impacted at-risk youth and built sustainable mentoring programs. The mentoring program is a piece of the greater community-wide effort for positive youth development.

If you have questions about the Mentoring Program, please contact Dr. Edward Gronlund, Research, Development, and Evaluation Director, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency at (563) 344-6315 or egronlund@aea9.k12.ia.us.

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