National News

Mentoring program expands, to add female volunteers

Posted August 8

— The steadily growing Community-Based Mentoring Program in Gwinnett County Public Schools is expanding in more ways than one this school year. In January, it will begin serving girls.

Janice Warren, former principal of Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, will kick off the mentoring program for girls. Warren and James Rayford, director of academic affairs who has led the program for years, said they are excited about the expansion and the additional support that will be available to students.

"This program will address a need, providing help and support to students who, up to now, may not have been getting it," Rayford said in a press release. "While the Community-Based Mentoring Program has been a success to date, we recognize that boys aren't the only ones who need mentors."

This fall the program begins its ninth year of providing volunteer mentors to male students. The program for boys will serve nearly 600 students in more than 65 schools. There is a goal of recruiting an additional 50 men to join the ranks of the 200 who already are involved in the program. As the district develops the mentoring program for girls it also will need female volunteer mentors.

The mentoring program will continue to place an emphasis on character development and cultivating leadership qualities, while also introducing students to the tenets of entrepreneurship by providing them with the opportunity to write and create their own business plans.

The school program in January had 210 men who volunteered as mentors, including 51 trained since the July 2016, to serve 469 students in 57 schools. That's up from 130 mentors serving more than 300 students two years ago. The program began in 2009 with 50 students.

Rayford has said research shows students involved with a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college, 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities, and 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Students are also more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team, as mentors help young people make responsible choices, attend and engage in school and reduce or avoid risky behaviors.

For more information about the Community-Based Mentoring Program, call 770-682-8086.

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