Sunday, April 29, 2001

Mentoring programs

Adult friends offer lifeline to struggling teens

        A mentor can be a lifeline to a young person struggling to find success.

       "If you ask kids in academic trouble why they dropped out, invariably the answer is: Nobody cared about me," says Jay Smink, executive director of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University. "Being a mentor says, I care about you and I'm spending some of my extra time with you."

       Here are a few of the mentoring and tutoring programs in Greater Cincinnati:

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative
       The CYC's mentoring program matches adults with students in Cincinnati Public Schools, both elementary and high schools. The program has more than 1,000 mentors and needs an additional 500, says executive director John Bryant. "The reality is, they can and do make a difference."

       Mentors are role models. They receive training and guidance from CYC, then work one-to-one with students. Shared activities can range from job shadowing to attending recreational or cultural events. Sometimes young people just need someone to listen.

        The CYC also operates a tutoring program in which volunteers serve as academic coaches for elementary and high school students.

       The CYC also assists in the recruitment of tutors for HOSTS (Helping One Student to Succeed), a program offering instruction in reading and language arts to students in nine Cincinnati elementary schools.

Information: (513) 475-4959 or

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati
       One-on-one and school-based mentoring programs serve children from ages 8 to 18 in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky; Hamilton, Clermont and Brown counties in Ohio; and Dearborn and Ohio counties in Indiana. Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment. More than 400 children are on a waiting list. (513) 421-4120.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association of Cincinnati
       This organization primarily serves children in the Jewish community in Hamilton County who are in need of friendship and guidance, but children and volunteers of any race or religion are welcome. Children age 8 to 18 are paired with adult role models. Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment. (513) 761-3200 or

Beech Acres
       This family-services agency in Anderson Township has both mentoring and tutoring programs. Adult mentors receive six hours of training and serve as role models for children 8 to 16 with mental, emotional or physical problems. Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment. The tutoring program seeks volunteers age 16 and up who can commit to two hours a week during the school year. Sessions are held at the Beech Acres campus. (513) 231-6630 or

Diocese of Covington, Department of Catholic Education
       A mentoring/tutoring program operates primarily in the diocese's urban schools. In-school volunteers are trained to work with students in kindergarten through high school. Volunteers can choose their school and time commitment. (859) 283-6230; ask for Matt Krebs.

St. Joseph Orphanage
Mentors are needed for four to six hours a month to work with at-risk youth who have been victims of abuse or neglect. Tutors also needed for an hour or more a week. (513) 481-7350 Ext. 104 or

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati
       Tutors are needed at five club locations to assist students age 6 to 18 with homework. (513) 421-8909.

Boys Hope Girls Hope
       This residential educational program seeks volunteer tutors to assist boys and girls in grade 5 through high school. Tutors work one hour a week, evenings. (513) 721-3380.

Foster Grandparent Program
       This Catholic Social Services program puts people age 60 and up in places such as hospitals, schools and day care to provide one-to-one attention for young people with special needs. Foster grandparents on a limited income may be eligible for a stipend. (513) 241-7745.

Foster parents
       Foster parents provide safe, nurturing homes for children, from infants through teens, who have been neglected, abandoned or abused. In Hamilton County, the goal of the Department of Human Services is 600 foster homes. There are now 450.

       Information: (513) 632-6366 or

       In Northern Kentucky, contact the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children: (859) 292-6340.

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