Students need to know that someone cares!
According to Sarah Patterson, Program Coordinator of the SMILES Program, the grant funding ensures the program can serve to capacity this school year. “We have brought on nearly 70 new carefully screened and trained mentors, who are prepared to work with at-risk youth. With level funding from the Mass Mentoring Partnership, we can serve every elementary and middle school in Fall River, in addition to three schools in New Bedford and two in Westport, and work with 30 new matches over the course of the 2017 to 2018 school year. Without level funding, this simply would not be possible.”
However, there are still needs to be filled. According to Bill Perkins, Chief Executive Officer of People, Incorporated and a SMILES Mentor, “A caring adult role model can have a significant positive effect on a child’s ability to learn. We have children on our waiting list who also need that role model in their life. With additional funds we could ensure that every child has that beneficial relationship, helping to ensure their educational success.”
Mass Mentoring Partnership believes that every young person has the right to access high-quality developmental relationships, and it is the responsibility of stakeholders in communities across the Commonwealth to help meet the needs of youth. In this two-year grant cycle, Mass Mentoring Partnership will continue to build relationships with legislators in the House and the Senate to raise visibility on the importance of this funding.
“The state has cut critical funds to mentoring,” MMP President and CEO, Marty Martinez, said. “We had to step up to make sure that more youth do not end up on wait lists like the thousands of young people from Boston to the Berkshires who are already in need.”
To learn more about the SMILES Mentoring Program, please visit peopleinc-fr.org/programs/smiles/. To learn about the Mentoring Matching Grants line item, visit massmentors.org/advocacy.
SMILES began in 2003 as a partnership involving leaders from the business, faith, and education communities in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The program was developed in response to the area’s longstanding high and chronic dropout rate, which has contributed to poor workforce education demographics and inhibited economic development. The establishment of SMILES is a direct response to research that identified mentoring as the most effective strategy to keep at-risk students in school through graduation. The SMILES Mentoring Program helps to empower youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their potential. The mentoring program recruits adult volunteers who will commit to supporting, guiding, and being a friend to a young person for a period of at least one school year, one hour per week. SMILES Mentors are an asset to the community. As a group, they serve to be part of the solution to attaining a better educated, responsible and community-minded society. SMILES is an affiliate of People, Incorporated. www.peopleinc-fr.org/programs/smiles/
About Mass Mentoring Partnership
Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) is fueling the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities across Massachusetts. MMP serves more than 250 programs statewide supporting over 33,000 youth in quality relationships. We work with mentoring programs and youth development organizations to assess programmatic needs and organizational capacity to provide customized strategies that strengthen youth, families, and communities. www.massmentors.org