Oakland students are back in school! And so are our mentors!
September is Attendance Awareness Month
The reasons for non-attendance are many: family issues including health problems, lack of reliable transportation, feeling of hostility to school and lack of engagement, among others; often it is multifactorial. We support the goals of awareness.attendanceworks.org in increasing attendance by addressing individual students and their issues. By direct communication with the students and 1:1 mentoring in the schools, school-based mentoring programs contribute to attendance. There is no single solution but programs such as Oakland Serves can play a role by reducing negative feelings about school, increasing positive attitude and by helping the students identify their own barriers and make better decisions.
Oakland Serves has added a new school hub at Dewey Academy!
We are excited to say this year we will be working with OUSD’s continuation high school, Dewey Academy. This is a new challenge for us and a trial for Dewey as well; we appreciate the hours that Dewey’s principal, Staci Ross-Morrison, and staff worked with us to make this happen. Dewey is a multi-ethnic school including many English Language Learners, where students come with significant family, economic and personal issues. We look forward to working with a school that describes their commitment to their students this way:
“Regardless of how they come to us, we welcome and accept them as they are and leverage their assets and formidable characters into graduates capable of transforming the world in which they came.”
We hope that we can make a contribution to Dewey and their students’ success this school year.
Increasing Support for our Amazing Mentors
In the last two newsletters we talked about our three-pronged initiative for Fall 2022 including (1) expanding our outreach to additional schools (Dewey!) and (2) increasing oversight of our mentees to identify obstacles and encourage participation. The final piece of our back-to-school initiative is increasing support for our amazing mentors. Mentoring is one of the more challenging volunteer roles to take on due to the required in-person weekly commitment throughout the school year. High school mentoring of potentially reluctant students is particularly hard. To increase the success of the mentees, we need to help our mentors succeed. We’ve completely re-worked how we support our mentors, providing more tools, more communication, and more efficient feedback mechanisms to allow them to be more effective at what they do and for all of us to learn more from each experience.
This year, we are pleased that ~ 50% of last year’s mentors are returning, even as we continue to recruit and train new ones. Creating continuity for students and relationship building are measures of success for mentoring programs so we were happy to find that almost half of the returning mentors will be working with the same students for a second year.
Without our donors, we could not do what we do
The attention we pay to our students, our schools and our mentors is critical to success, particularly amidst an environment of stretched school personnel and stressed high school students.
Without your help, we cannot run our 1:1 in school mentoring that can provide students the academic success and confidence to allow them to complete high school. For each student we mentor, it costs Oakland Serves > $600 per year even with a mostly volunteer staff (and all our mentors are volunteers). This is a small cost to get a student over the line to the next year of school and to graduation.
There are many ways to help our bottom line:
…And matching gifts to double your donation
Many companies today will financially match donations that their employees make to nonprofit organizations. When an employee makes a donation, or volunteers for a nonprofit, they can request that their employer make a donation as well. We are registered with organizations that work with many local employers to coordinate matching corporate gifts. A partial list of local companies is on our website here or check with your HR department.
Volunteer with us
It’s not too late to start mentoring this fall! We are particularly interested in mentors that can go into a classroom once a week or meet with students after class.
Cannot commit to mentoring a student? How about helping with our social media? We are looking for help to enhance our Facebook posts or manage our webpage.
Contact us directly or check us out on Volunteer Match.
Content Editor: Sue Wollowitz & Sharon Rose
Managing Editor: Ina Zhang
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