Author

Buzz Lambert

Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

It is becoming more and more common for children to be raised by single parents or by ulterior guardians in today's society. Children need role models who can help fill the gap of parents or older siblings. Role models are viable for support or to answer questions these children may have about life. Effective mentors can enlighten children about the importance of education and hard work. This evolution does not happen overnight. In fact, success takes much energy and effort. It is also important to understand that some youth cannot be reached. Mentoring is not fail-safe. At times, it can be frustrating and discouraging for both the mentors and for the youth. It is the success stories, however, that keep people involved. To see their children graduate from high school and go to college or find a respectable job, serves as the impetus for this movement.

In a course on leading change in the Jepson School, one of the requirements of the course challenged my group to initiate an immediate change on campus. The purpose of this component of the course was to allow us to apply change theories to a practical experience. The focus of our project matched students at the University of Richmond with children in downtown Richmond. This focus evolved into the Jepson Mentor Program for at risk youth.

The youth were already part of an after school program run by several All Souls Presbyterian Church women, mostly retired teachers. Every Monday after school, the children would complete their homework with their assistance. This program was successful in that it provided tutoring for these children and an outlet to do something constructive after school. It did not, however, emphasize mentoring. The environment was not conducive to listening to the children's problems and providing support outside of their schoolwork. With little experience in the development and implementation of mentor programs, it was obvious that contact with established mentor programs would be critical for success.

This project explores and analyzes existing mentor programs for at risk children by examining their strengths and weaknesses, and analyzing how they impact children in the long run. Another focus of this project establishes a mentoring program that incorporates the findings and best practices from successful mentoring programs. Program guidelines and procedures will be incorporated in a manual that can be used to help ensure the program's survival for years to come. It will serve to instruct future Richmond students who are interested in leading this community seivice.

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