A study by the
American Council on Education concludes that despite the greater numbers of
minority students enrolling in college today, African Americans and Latinos lag
behind whites and Asian Americans in graduating. The graduation rates of
African American and Native American college students (38%) and of Latinos
(46%) were significantly lower than the graduation rates of both white (59%)
and Asian American (66%) students. (“Report Finds Minority Ranks Rise
Sharply On Campuses,” The New York
College acceptance and fiscal resources alone are futile in ensuring success for low income, minority students. Because matriculation to college is extremely challenging for youth who have little experience outside their own neighborhoods and social class, these students need generous social, emotional and academic support and guidance. Because transition into the college sophomore year as a strong predictor of college graduation, this program will focus Aunts and Uncles mentoring support from the senior year in high school to a stable, second year in college or tech school.
High school seniors who are seriously considering college or a trade school as a next career step will volunteer for the Aunts and Uncles Club through two Youth Guidance programs: Project STRIVE (Strategies To Rejuvenate Interest and Value in Education) and Project Prepare. We expect about 25 to 35 youth will want to participate.
A student orientation will be held for volunteer students who plan to adopt an aunt or uncle where they will learn about the program goals, activities, and benefits as well as ways to contribute to the relationship to make it most effective.
Volunteer mentors will be recruited through our Board of Directors and staff. Our pilot project has already shown that it is quite possible to interest adults in participating as Aunts and Uncles; it may be harder to help mentors understand the nature of their commitment. As part of the volunteer orientation, the Club coordinator and social workers will lead workshops on understand the challenges and obstacles encountered by our particular students and offer concrete suggestions for handling a variety of situations.
In addition to separate orientations for students and mentors in the fall, a total of five events will offer the mentoring pairs opportunities to develop comfort levels with one another. The program coordinator and STRIVE and Project Prepare social workers will be on hand to facilitate these “first dates”. The first event in November where partners meet one another will be a celebration of the future. The January and March events will include a topic for discussion as well as ice-breakers and team building exercises. In June, the group will celebrate high school graduations. In July or August, we hope to organize a trunk party for the graduates who are attending college in the fall.
With the students in emotional turmoil as they experiment with independence, mentors can expect that expressions of gratitude for their efforts may not come from that sector. To provide support to the mentors, the program coordinator will assist he aunts and uncles individually and encourage them to network among themselves for mutual support. The program coordinator will also help to arrange meetings and keep track of mid-term breaks, final exams and college status for each student, reminding the mentors when to send care packages during critical times or when to assist a student in a search for a summer job.
The outcomes measurements for the Aunts and Uncles Club reflect three major goals: 1) students will successfully graduate from high school and transition into post-secondary education, 2) students will successfully complete their first college year, and 3) students and Aunts or Uncles will develop positive, supportive relationships. Specific outcomes related to educational transition include:
· While in their senior year participating in the Aunts and Uncles Club, students will graduate and successfully be admitted to at least one college or university;
· Students will complete related financial aid and scholarship applications in a timely manner to lessen financial barriers;
· Students will successfully enroll in their chosen school;
· Students will successfully avoid academic probation in their 1st year at college.
Specific outcomes related to the relationship between the mentor and student include:
· Each students and mentor will participate in at least two of the four interactive events prior to the conclusion of senior year to develop a sense of closeness;
· Students will report that they are able to seek advice and assistance from mentors when surveyed every six months;
· Students and mentors will provide positive assessments of the program when surveyed every six months.
These outcomes will be measured through evaluation/satisfaction surveys and self-report on the number of interactions between student and mentors. Students will be expected to provide copies of their college registration and academic records at the end of each semester/trimester.