Partners with a Purpose is still looking for volunteers for the school year.
By Wally Perez
The office of partnerships and extended services is looking for college students to volunteer for Partners with a Purpose, a mentor program for eighth graders 14-16 who may have repeated grades for academic or other reasons.
The program allows volunteers to mentor eighth graders throughout the city with subjects they may be struggling with in school.
This college has been paired with students at Irving Middle School, 1300 Delgado St.
The goal is to have the eighth graders up to speed with the curriculum, graduate and be prepared for ninth grade, Chaye Peña, senior coordinator for student success in partnerships and extended services, said during an interview Sept. 9.
She is in charge of the program this year.
The goal also is to reduce the dropout rate.
In Texas, 3,974 students dropped out of grades seven through eight, which was 0.5 percent in 2014; a 0.1 percent increase from 2013, and a 0.2 percent increase from 2012, according to a report by the Texas Education Agency in August.
“We want to provide support that these students may not be receiving at home, whether it be communicative, emotional or parental support,” she said.
“Ninety percent of students involved in similar programs have gone on to graduate high school,” she said.
Another goal of the program is for volunteers to create a connection with the student and build a successful relationship based on a mutual respect and trust, she said.
Peña said that around 70 students have shown interest in volunteering, but she expected that number to fall as the Oct. 21 deadline approaches.
“Hopefully, we will have at least 25 volunteers to match the 25 eighth graders that are involved, but the more the merrier,” Peña said.
Volunteers will meet this semester at least once a week for training sessions, and they must be able to meet with the students for one hour a week in the pring.
The program provides all materials, including books and school supplies.
To qualify, students must submit an application, maintain a 2.75 grade point average, pass a background check and provide three references.
Students with a GPA below 2.75 may be considered, she said.
Potential mentors will be matched based on personality and backgrounds with the eighth graders, and ideally the mentor will excel at the subject the mentee is struggling with, she said.
It’s a rewarding experience helping the community, and volunteers often feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that they’re able to reach out and help, Peña said.
For more information on this and other volunteer opportunities, visit the office of partnerships and extended services in Room 221 of Fletcher Administration Center, or visit saccivicengagement.orgsync.com/org/partnerswithapurpose.
Peña can also be reached at 210-486-0930.