YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As part of the United Way’s Success After 6 program, business professionals in the Youngstown community volunteer their time to work with students to improve their grades.
For some of those students, it’s their only source of academic encouragement.
Adults from across the Valley, known as “report card mentors,” volunteer at the Youngstown Community School by taking just a little time to show students that perfection isn’t the goal. Working hard and turning their grades around now can payoff in the long run, volunteers say.
“I’ve come from where you came. I’m from Youngstown. I live where you live. I think it’s exciting for them to know that, ‘Hey, this guy grew up where I grew up, and he’s successful,'” said Steven Jones, owner of the Steven C. Jones Agency — State Farm.
Last year was the first for Success After 6, and Jones signed up to volunteer as a mentor.
“A lot of these kids… they need that extra from us to get them where they need to be,” he said.
Success After 6 Coordinator Brenda Scott said the program is specifically designed for fourth through sixth graders. The students sit down with a mentor and discuss their report cards, behavior and goals, as well as how they can improve.
“We don’t know when they go home if the conversation is being had, ‘What’s going on with your report card? How can you improve? How can you advance to the next level?'” Scott said. “The 10-minute conversation is so powerful.”
Scott said into the first year, it was obvious that meeting with a mentor was working.
“Going to the third quarter, I had kids improving their letter grades by at least two letter grades. Their attendance improved and also their behavior and conduct in the classroom improved,” she said.
Don’t believe that having an adult mentor can make a big impact on children who don’t always listen?
Fifth grader Addie Kelley is one of their success stories.
“I had the lady help me get my C up to a B and help me get all As in Language Arts and Reading,” Kelley said.
Mentors hold students accountable, Scott said. Jones said the work is important to the community.
“That’s how we can change some of the environment we’ve been hearing about in the city,” he said.
Scott says part of the reason the program is doing so well is because it is supported by the LeBron James Family Foundation, which helped the program get off the ground. She says LeBron James sends a signed letter to every kid in the program, and she believes that helps them push harder to succeed, too.
You can donate by visiting United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s website.
To see all of WKBN’s stories on Giving Tuesday, visit the designated section on WKBN.com.