Mentor America Initiative
ET's pioneered a program with a national reputation. Utilizing the knowledge, expertise of the model program "Mentor America", ET seeks to serve as a basis for other organizations and provide training and technical assistance in a significant number of states. Educate Tomorrow facilitators will work with organizations throughout the nation to implement the proven methods of one-on-one mentoring enhanced with the unique focus of educational planning support and life skills to promote education as the path to independence and self-sufficiency for disadvantaged youth in this country.
Unlike other mentor programs ET offers volunteers a specific focus -- education. Mentoring relationships of all kind are valuable. However, providing mentors a specific mandate provides the ability to obtain specific results. ET's strategy is simple: motivate and guide mentees toward receiving a high school diploma and pursuing post secondary education.
One-on-one mentoring is particularly effective with ET's target population because this population has the desire to succeed but merely lack the confidence, knowledge and resources necessary pursue educational opportunities (particularly post secondary opportunities). ET mentors are trained to assist the mentees and encourage them through the process. The one-on-one ratio of mentor to mentee compared to the overburdened caseworkers or guidance counselors ensures that each student obtains the individual assistance he or she needs to make education a reality.
Innovative in its singular mandate to mentors, the ET program will provide a quantifiable impact on the target population. ET will continue to monitor the progress of each student though graduation and report on his or her success through evaluation and documentation.
Beginning in 2006 with funds from the federal government under the Corporation for National and Community Service, ET created a model program including a user manual and web based support materials, ET is now able to replicate its program in communities across the nation. Several communities and faith-based organizations across the nation have already established themselves as candidates to implement these educational mentoring programs in other communities. ET staff has already implemented 2 such programs in Minneapolis, MN called Praxis, and in West Palm Beach, FL through the WPB Legal Aid society. Utilizing 5 Americorps VISTA volunteers ET has already begun working with community groups in over 30 communities across the nation to assess each community's specific needs and resources. With additional funding, ET will be able to mentor these communities with the already created templates, manuals, trainings, support materials and the personnel support required for replication of the mentoring program in each community. In addition to support materials, ET seeks to assist each community to develop a strategic plan, identify local funding resources and eventually a community board that will be responsible for raising community funds to support the sustainability for each community's respective programs.
Educate Tomorrow has found a series of approaches that, taken together, bring help and hope to this forgotten segment of society. First of all, we know what it takes to make a successful transition out of foster care and into independent adulthood -- education. Educate Tomorrow's mission is "Independence through Education." Second, it takes just one person who takes the time to care, and to make a difference in a child's life - a mentor. Finally, it takes a community that is willing and able to make a commitment to take care of their most vulnerable youth. One youth, one volunteer, one organization, one community, one nation at a time to create systematic change for generations to come.