Higher Achievement in Urban Views RVA: Calling all Mentors

Higher Achievement seeks Richmond area mentors – Do you have one hour a week to make a difference?
By Amandalyn Vanover

I recently sat down with The Higher Achievement Program of Richmond, an academically focused afterschool and summer program for students in 5th – 8th grades and learned about their greatest need. Right now they are searching for mentors to join the upcoming fall session (starting in early October) to continue working on their vision of building a world where children are given every chance to reach their full potential, regardless of circumstance.

Be the Difference

As a mentor, you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these young people by providing encouragement, understanding, academic support and friendship while they learn important educational, professional, and life skills. Together you and your mentee will participate in small group sessions, special events and activities, workshops, field trips, and more.

“Higher Achievement makes me feel special because I know a lot of people don’t get the privilege to come here. I love all our cheers and chants and the way we support each other. The mentors really get to know us and they leave a big impact on the scholars. Higher Achievement scholars aren’t like everyone else. They are smart, nice, mature, and collaborative. It’s like a big family. I can be myself here, and it feels really good to be different.” – Diamilatou, Rising 6th Grade Scholar

During the summer program scholars are exposed to new opportunities and experiences, including weekly field trips and visits to Virginia colleges and universities at the end of the program. The engaging six-week program prepares them for the fall session wherein they continue to receive help with academics, problem solving, navigating educational challenges, and building relationships.

For those with no experience in mentoring, it is a meaningful way to build a lasting relationship that enriches the interactions of everyone involved. We encourage everyone who cares about the future of our youth to become a mentor. There is absolutely no experience necessary.

“Mentoring is a fun, rewarding way to make a lasting impact in the life of a young human being while enriching your own. By spending time with our Richmond middle school youth you’ll help to build upon the outlets for expression and knowledge they explore as they strive to reach new goals.”

The Mentees

Scholars in the program start the summer after finishing 4th grade and stay the duration of their middle school years, graduating from Higher Achievement and 8th grade simultaneously.

The scholars’ success is due in large part to their relationship with their mentors. For a one-hour a week commitment (Tuesday or Thursday), you can be part of the success important to our community’s middle school children as they prepare for high school and life.

“I would never have been able to do it by myself. The application, the essay, it was scary. My mentors helped me with everything. And now I get to go to a really good high school.”– Stephanie, 8th grade scholar

High Achievement Mentors

Mentors come from all backgrounds and ages, and Higher Achievement is always seeking a diverse pool of applicants, from college students to retirees. No matter your career, experience, background or education, you are wanted as a mentor if you are invested in the lives of our future.

The group of community members called mentors are not only invested in the neighborhoods they live and work in, but know opportunities make all the difference in the lives of growing, goal-minded children. The program invites you to join them in their Afterschool Academy by applying to be a mentor. Please visit www.higherachievement.org/volunteer and remember, no experience, teaching or otherwise is required.

As a mentor with the Higher Achievement of Richmond program, you will instruct a small group of middle-schoolers by way of a provided curriculum.

Check out what some of the Higher Achievement mentors have to say:

“Middle schoolers are in such a transition part of their lives. It’s a great time to make an impact. I have learned more from my scholars than they ever could learn from me. My favorite part of mentoring is getting to know my scholars. They are so funny!

A poignant moment for me was while we were talking about career goals. One scholar who LOVES sharks said that she was going to be a nurse. Then said she wished there were jobs that let you work with sharks. It was so heartbreaking that she didn’t even know that a marine biologist was a career (as well as many others). It also made me feel like I could serve a need by showing them the world outside of theirs.”– Carey, Henderson M.S. Mentor

“It’s was always exciting to attend my mentoring sessions. The kids were so full of energy and questions and always interested in learning. I was always amazed at how passionate they were about social justice topics. This was a wonderful experience for me. One of my favorite parts of mentoring was knowing that the kids really looked forward to the time we spent together.” – Bill, Binford M.S. Mentor of the Year

“I’ve grown a lot since I started mentoring. My students’ pure openness and energy have helped me open up and become more outgoing, and I’ve learned to be quicker on my feet to keep up with them.” – Shannon, Henderson M.S. 1st Year Mentor

When & Where

Mentors join us one night a week on either Tuesday or Thursday from 5:10 p.m.– 6:10 p.m. at the following 3 Richmond middle schools:

Henderson Middle School (Northside)
Binford Middle School (The Fan)
Boushall Middle School (Southside)

The Stats

Ninety-five percent of Higher Achievement scholars graduate high school as scheduled and college-ready. Sixty-three percent of scholars see a positive impact on their grades because of the program. Get on board with Higher Achievement today to help more Richmond youth take control of their future.

Email rbrock@higherachievement.org or visit www.higherachievement.org/volunteer.

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