MPS receives $300,000 grant to expand mentoring

MONTGOMERY, AL - Montgomery Public Schools has received a sizable federal grant to expand mentoring programs for at-risk students.

The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently awarded MPS' Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative a two-year, $300,000 grant to begin offering community-based mentoring services to 60 students at-risk for truancy, juvenile delinquency, school failure and dropout.

Four elementary and five middle schools will participate in the grant. The elementary schools are Dozier, Head, Harrison, and Morningview. The middle schools are Bellingrath, Capitol Heights, Goodwyn, McIntyre and Southlawn Middle.

"The need for mentoring opportunities in our community cannot be understated," said MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson. "Issues like truancy and delinquency can have a dramatic impact on instruction in our schools. Mentoring is a way to give students access to a caring adult that can share experiences that provide them with the direction and confidence they need not only to be a good student, but to become a successful human being."

SS/HS will use the funds to partner with community agencies to recruit, screen and train mentors, increase parental involvement, improve the student identification and referral process for services, and improve the transition of mentees from elementary to middle school.

At the end of the two-year period, an evaluation will be used to determine if the mentoring services were delivered as intended, and to measure the direct effect of mentoring on students, parents and staff, as evidenced by an improvement in attendance and behavior.

"Research shows that mentoring is one of the most effective strategies for keeping students in school and reducing the likelihood of students engaging in high-risk behaviors," said Teresa Green, SS/HS Project Director. Green and Dr. Letha Maxton, Director of Student Support Services, co-wrote the mentoring grant, which will be implemented immediately.

"By collaborating with other agencies on this grant, we have a better chance of achieving the outcomes we want," Maxton said. "We want to see students who are engaged and excited about learning, who are more committed to staying in school and "Ÿ most importantly, have connected with an adult who cares."