You can help get Austin kids to college. Here’s how.

Two new collaborations kicking off this month are determined to get more Austin kids ready for college, and they could use your help.

Mentoring Austin middle school students

The first is a mentoring project called 1 Hour for Kids, which was created by United Way Capital Area to forge the efforts of eight Austin nonprofits that serve children in their middle school years. The goal is to recruit 400 volunteers by late fall to mentor an at-risk student from one of six Austin middle schools.

Why middle school? The collaborators found that there are fewer mentors and other support systems catered to this age group than others, a lost opportunity considering that research shows that middle school students with at least one supportive adult in their lives are almost twice as likely to graduate as those who do not.

The genius of 1 Hour for Kids, though, is a revelation, at least for the volunteers. If you’re considering being a mentor for a student in Austin, you’ve probably browsed the obvious opportunities, but if you dig a little deeper, you’d find many more opportunties beyond that. That’s when it gets complicated, right?

But what 1 Hour for Kids does, as evidenced even by its compelling name, is make it simple to identify the right opportunity for you. It comes down to a simple quiz that helps you figure out what you care about. And you take it online. And from there, you sign up. It’s this straightforward entry structure that demystifies mentoring a bit. I’m always on the lookout for this myself -things that inspire the people who are thinking about community engagement to take that first step – and I love when a nonprofit makes this a priority.

They’ve even taken advantage of social networking sites to let you direct friends to the cause. (And now I direct you! See the Facebook page. Join the cause. Invite @aplusk, whpever.)

Now, the process of becoming a mentor is… a process. They don’t just send you the name of a kid and you send him an email and go see a movie. There are background checks and a little training to take, etc., before they put someone else’s child in your hands. But neither do they leave you to your own devices after you’ve gone through the training. There are guidelines, suggestions, and an on-staff support person mentoring the mentor, so to speak.

But once you’ve gone through the training, you’ll find being a mentor can come naturally. Every positive effort you make to be a part of a child’s life has an enormous impact. Mentors I’ve spoken to describe how startling and significant the rewards of mentoring can be. We’re going to speak to several mentors to learn more about this in our next issue.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

College readiness workshop

The second is a college readiness workshop that kicked off this past weekend.

Saturday was the first of eight full-day workshops for Austin students accepted or enrolled in college. Now, if you went to college and think back on the many opportunities you had to totally blow it, you can see why a little extra direction from wise elders might help. So a group of them, lead by E3 Alliance, The Blueprint for Educational Change, and the University of Texas Institute for Public School Initiatives created a series of workshops to cover all those non-academic challenges. 

The workshops will cover topics like financial aid, social life, money management… lots of things I wish someone had prepared me for. And the information will be presented by experts as well as other college students. The audience will consist of 250 students who come from low-income families and may be the first from their families to attend college.

And here’s some interesting information: As an added incentive, the UT System donated a total of four $1,000 scholarship awards to be drawn during the event on June 27th. These awards are for parents/guardians in attendance on either day may enter. The winners must be a parent/guardian of a student attending a college anywhere in the U.S.
 
In addition, Advance Micro Devices (AMD) and Applied Materials have each contributed a $1000 scholarship, available to any student who is registered and participates in the CTC program on any of the other dates.

When and Where:
June 20: UT School of Social Work, Room 2.112

June 25: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 220

June 26: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 220

June 27: UT School of Social Work, Room 2.116

July 1: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 220

July 2: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 301

July 16: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 301

July 17: ACC Highland Business Center, Room 301

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Please share these opportunities with people you know.

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