The City of Miami has enlisted the help of its employees and residents who are interested in serving as mentors to at-risk students.
The Miami chapter of Take Stock in Children (TSIC) — a nonprofit that offers low-income youth scholarships and mentoring resources — will provide college scholarships for students who take part in the city’s new Graduation Coaches program, an initiative that follows the national Cities of Service Graduation Coaches blueprint.
The initiative was formally introduced last month at Miami City Hall. January is National Mentoring Month.
“People are working together to create a city that is a global city, but a sustainable city,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. “We want to be able to augment what the school district is doing to support our students.”
City of Miami staff who decide to become mentors will be paid for their time. About 50 employees have already signed up.
“This is how dreams are made,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. “And the difference between a dream and reality is a plan to make it happen.”
The program is initially expected to serve about 100 students in Miami. Graduation Coaches can span the entire city, serve a high school and its feeder schools, target a single neighborhood, or be limited to the area served by a particular community-based organization.
To ensure there are sufficient funds to support the program, scholarship money will be raised prior to students being selected and assigned mentors. The largest local TSIC donor was CareerSource South Florida, which awarded $1.3 million in scholarship money.
Jillian Hasner, president and CEO of TSIC, said the student-mentor relationship often has a long-lasting impact on both parties.
“When I’m visiting with parents, students, and teachers they tell me again and again, ‘The scholarship brought me in, but the mentoring relationship…that’s what changed my life,’” Hasner said.