I've mentioned in previous posts that I am a mentor with an organization based in Washington, D.C. called College Bound. College Bound is a program for students in the 8-12th grades, who attend public school in the District and prepares them on their journey to college.
The program is structured in a way that the partners (mentors) meet with their students (mentees) once a week at four sites around DC for 2 hours per week. Most of the time is spent assisting students with their homework and various projects for schools. Those partners who have older students typically help them prepare for college entrance exams and work on admissions essays. In addition to tutoring, it is encouraged that partners forge a bond with our students and do things with them outside of the weekly site visit.
This is my second year volunteering with the program and it's been a rewarding experience. My mentee is in the 8th grade and she's been quite a challenge to work with. When I met her she was failing English. She still has a long way to go but I've learned to be supportive in trying to help her with what she's not being taught in school. It amazes me that she's 13 and does not know the basics concepts of grammar or how to spell simple words that my 6 year old nephew knows. The problem stems from no one correcting her, so she simply did not know. There are so many problems with the DC public school system that I'm not going to go into right now, but all these kids need is someone to show them a little support and guidance.
With that said, College Bound is always looking for new Partners to make a difference in the lives of these children. I always find it interesting that less than half of the Partners are Black, while I'd say 98% of the students are Black or Hispanic. Not that there is anything wrong with having mentors of other races but it's extremely important for our children to be able to see someone who looks like them, who have gone to college, who have careers and can tell them first hand about their experiences and how they made it to where they are in life.
If you live in the DMV and are interested in becoming a mentor, please visit College Bound's website to get involved. They are in dire need of mentors as there is a waiting list for students because of the shortage of mentors.
I hope everyone who reads this post set a goal for the New Year to become a mentor in 2010. It's a rewarding experience and it only requires a couple hours of your time each week. There are kids out there who just need a little guidance from you to help them become a better person.