This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
From: Janet Ravneberg, on behalf of the High School Graduation Results Committee RE: Project Mentor Proposal and Funding Recommendation
At its meeting this month, the High School Graduation Results Committee reviewed a proposal from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio for financial support from the Impact Council for Project Mentor. This memo contains a description of Project Mentor, details about the request to United Way, and the committee’s assessment and recommendation. For additional information, please refer to the complete proposal and financial information submitted by Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Project Mentor In 2007, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Columbus City Schools (CCS) launched Project Mentor, an initiative designed to provide school-based mentoring in every school in the CCS district, with the long-term goal of serving 10,000 students. With major corporate support from Nationwide, Project Mentor recruited and matched 1,100 adult volunteers with middle-school students (primarily 8th grade students) during the 2007-08 school year. The focus on middle school students was aligned with CCS’s goal to achieve a graduation rate of 90% with the class of 2012. Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates school-based mentoring programs in 34 CCS schools, including all 27 middle schools. Students targeted for the weekly mentoring experiences were those identified as needing extra help and support to achieve graduation and most likely to benefit from a mentoring relationship. Adult volunteers, recruited from a wide range of local businesses, organizations, and from the community, received orientation and training to their new roles. All volunteers underwent a comprehensive screening, which included reference checks, an interview and criminal background check. School-based mentoring experiences include opportunities for the mentoring pair to build a relationship, engage in fun activities, and discuss such topics as
academic goals and pathways, decision making, getting along with peers, conflict resolution and personal development. Mentors become advocates for the student and promote a stronger connection between the student and his/her school experience. Initiative Evaluation Evaluation plans for Project Mentor include the following: • • • Quarterly assessments of students’ attendance, tardy and discipline records and a comparison of the students’ records at the end of each year with the baseline established before the student entered the program; Surveys about six dimensions of the mentoring relationship, which will be administered to students before they begin their mentoring experience and a the end of the school year; and An independent evaluation coordinated by Dr. David Andrews from the Ohio State University.
At the completion of the 2007-08 school year, Big Brothers Big Sisters received positive assessments from school principals and positive feedback from adult volunteers. Complete evaluation data about participating students was not available at the time the Committee reviewed the proposal. Future Plans for the Initiative In its second year, Project Mentor will maintain mentoring experiences at 27 middle schools and expand to serve ninth grade students at 20 additional high schools. A total of 2,000 students are projected to be matched with adult mentors during the 2008-09 school year. Longer term, Project Mentor will expand the number of students and number of schools served, with the goal of offering mentoring in every CCS school by 201415 and maintaining 10,000+ mentoring relationships. The hope is to reach a “tipping point” in each school so that the positive impact of mentoring relationships will strengthen the total school environment. Proposed UWCO Support Big Brothers Big Sisters requested $150,000 from the Impact Council to support the expansion of Project Mentor in 2008-09. The funds will be used to support additional personnel and related expenses associated with the growth of the program.
The total budget for Project Mentor is projected to grow from $1,054,000 in 200708 to $1,688,772 in 2008-09. Big Brothers is seeking funding from local foundations and businesses to support the planned expansion.
Committee Assessment and Recommendation The Committee used United Way’s criteria for initiative funding as a guide in reviewing the Project Mentor proposal. In completing its assessment, Committee members noted the following: • • • • • • The initiative directly links with the high school graduation community result; Project Mentor is a collaborative effort that includes CCS, the business community, service providers and other stakeholders; The initiative effectively engages large numbers of community volunteers; The initiative has already demonstrated its capacity to leverage funds and it has the potential to attract revenue sources that will sustain the project; Big Brothers Big Sisters has demonstrated its commitment to rigorous evaluation and incorporating best practices; and The project can create visible and measurable community impact by helping more students stay on the path to high school graduation.
Committee members raised questions about where the expenses for the evaluation of the initiative were included in the budget. Ed Cohn, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, responded that data gathering and analysis is provided by CCS and Nationwide, other evaluation expenses are included in personnel costs, and the OSU study is independently funded. Committee members do not think that the Impact Council is in a position to make a multi-year commitment to Project Mentor at this time. The Committee did recommend that the Ensuring Children and Youth Succeed Impact Council approve $150,000 from the 2008-09 initiative budget to support Project Mentor in the 2008-09 school year. As a condition of funding, Project Mentor will be required to provide periodic programmatic and financial reports, which will be reviewed by the High School Graduation Results Committee.