Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,755,000)
College Mentors for Kids connects kids to college students through weekly on-campus activities that inspire growth, confidence, and brighter futures. The purpose of the proposed project is to enhance mentoring services to the existing 700 youth, as well as expand the youth mentoring program to serve an additional 1,584 youth for a total of 2,284 mentees over the course of the grant. As a Multistate Mentoring Program, College Mentors for Kids will implement, expand and enhance its signature mentor program blending one-on-one mentoring with a group model. The mentoring program has been in existence for 27 years and aligns with researched best practices, including the Elements of Effective Practice. The unique program exclusively utilizes college student mentors and activities take place on a college campus. Expected outcomes include prosocial behaviors, increased self-esteem and self-efficacy, increased awareness of different careers, increased or maintained hopeful future expectations, and comfort and familiarity with a college campus. College Mentors proposed sites include 13 universities and 25 elementary partners in Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. The intended beneficiaries are elementary school students in 1st 6th grade who attend one of College Mentors partner elementary schools, 84% of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch and 60% from communities of color. This is important because research shows economically disadvantaged youth are historically underserved and more likely to experience juvenile delinquency, drop out of school, and remain in poverty. College Mentors does not have subrecipients.
Project deliverables and activities include hiring an additional program staff to support quality mentoring and growth; hiring a grant-funded position to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, youth and family voice and engagement, and data; expansion to 2 sites in new geographic areas within the current state footprint; developing enhanced training for chapter leaders and mentors, especially around diversity, equity, and inclusion, behavior management, bullying, and mental health; diversifying volunteers so they better reflect the youth they serve by adding a new student leadership position; enhancing recruitment materials and the match initiation meeting structure according to the Elements of Effective Practice in Mentoring; developing a family council to ensure input of historically marginalized and underserved communities and increase family engagement; prioritizing youth voice by enhancing curriculum to create additional opportunities for mentee choice in activities; and developing an app to allow college students to easily message families with program updates.