Mentoring/Student Assistance Initiative
Funds are appropriated by the legislature to the Florida Department of Education each year for Mentoring/Student Assistance Initiative grants and School and Instructional Enhancement grants. The purpose is to improve student performance for low-performing at-risk students by providing additional learning opportunities, increasing personal responsibility and community involvement; discouraging drug and alcohol and weapon use, and other delinquency involvement; reducing dropout rates; and improving academic achievement.
Best Buddies International provides mentoring activities to intellectually challenged students to help them become integrated with other students and promote social inclusion in the community. Middle schools and high schools throughout the state are targeted. Each chapter pairs students with and without intellectual challenges in one-to-one friendships. Through their Best Buddies friendships, these students learn social skills, develop self-confidence, and in some cases learn leadership skills within the club.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program provides mentoring activities for at-risk and low-performing students, addresses unmet needs at low performing schools, and provides training and support to mentors. They work within low-performing schools to provide academic assistance to students who are identified as at-risk in one of the Florida Standards learning areas. Students are assigned to a mentor and a case manager who tracks the students’ success. Activities include one-on-one mentoring, homework support, extended classroom learning, and addressing individual skill gaps.
The Black Male College Explorers Program provides a continuance of academic support in middle and high schools for students to matriculate to a university or college upon completion of the 12th grade. This program is a prevention/intervention program designed specifically to prevent black males from dropping out of high school, facilitating their admission to college, and significantly increase their chances of earning a college degree. Schools identify at-risk black makes in grades 7th-11th. Selected students stay on campus for five weeks and participate in highly concentrated developmental experiences.
Boys and Girls Clubs provide tutoring and mentoring services for at-risk and low-performing students after school. Activities include Power Hour (homework help and tutoring which raises students’ academic proficiency), Power Learn (reinforces and enhances skills and knowledge learned at school), Goals for Graduation (teaches students the concept of academic goal setting), other academic activities, family engagement and collaboration with schools.
The Girl Scouts of Florida’s “Get Real” Mentoring Program is designed to provide mentoring activities for at-risk middle school girls to improve their student performance. The participants are provided reading and writing opportunities, as well as, interactive activities that teach life skills. This program connects these students with caring community members that serve as mentors. The goal of the “Get Real” curriculum is to increase the girls’ motivation and ability to make positive life choices that will impact school performance.
Take Stock in Children provides mentors and college scholarships for low-income students between 6th and 9th grades in order to enhance their likelihood of college preparation and attendance. This program provides students with college and vocational-technical scholarships, volunteer mentors, student advocates, tutoring, and community support. Each child signs a contract agreeing to maintain good grades, to remain drug and crime free, and to meet with his/her mentor regularly to receive the scholarship. Each student is assigned a caring adult mentor who meets with the student at his/her school for one hour each week.
Teen Trendsetters, a program of the Barbara Bush Foundation, serves academically at-risk students by providing mentoring activities through the Teen Trendsetter Reading Mentors (TTRM) to improve student performance. High school students are recruited and trained to mentor 3rd grade students in one-to-one reading sessions. These sessions may occur before, during, or after school. The mentoring and reading materials for TTRM are designed for students at different reading levels and to incorporate different learning styles. The mentor training provides a practical hands-on approach to working with the mentee and the reading materials.
The YMCA READS! Program provides mentoring and tutoring assistance to at-risk first and second graders in reading. Using the Systematic Instruction in Phoneme Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words, the volunteer mentors not only assist students in their reading mechanics, but they also work to instill a love of reading and literature. First and second graders are referred from low- performing schools or schools that have a high percentage of students scoring below grade level in reading. YMCA READS! site coordinators and volunteer mentors work with the students in small groups, on a 1:2 basis, or on a 1:1 basis, mentoring the referred students in reading as well as character development and building self-esteem.
FCI programs are modeled after the nationally recognized Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). A Children's Initiative is a neighborhood or community in Florida where the infrastructure and opportunities that middle-class communities take for granted are nonexistent or so marginal that they are ineffective. Currently, three programs under the FCI are funded by the state; they are the New Town Success Zone, Miami Children’s Zone and Parramore Kidz Zone. Although based on the HCZ model, each program below operates and provides services differently to meet the needs of their community. The Florida Ounce of Prevention Fund acts as the fiscal agent.
The Mourning Family Foundation (MFF) serves students through the Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine programs which target at-risk and low-income youth ages eight to eighteen. The Overtown Youth Center offers in-school, afterschool, weekend and summer programs that include academic enhancement, physical fitness, health care and nutrition, creative arts, prevention, character building and family-oriented activities, including parent orientation. Honey Shine holds bi-monthly workshops, fieldtrips and a four week summer camp. Workshops are held at a variety of South Florida attractions outside of the girls’ own communities. The program seeks to help them in the development of personal goals, self-respect and self-esteem, financial literacy, journaling, self-exploration and expression.
For more information on mentoring and student assistance initiative programs, please contact:
Kathleen Forsyth, Program Specialist