For the third year, community organizations, faith- or values-based groups and businesses are being asked to partner to encourage one-on-one mentorship in Ohio’s schools and help give more students access to role models who can motivate and inspire them.
Gov. John Kasich created the Community Connectors program as a key initiative to foster increased student mentorship. In the grant’s first round, 6,000 mentors helped guide more than 22,000 Ohio students. In total, 45 of 88 counties are, or have been, home to one or more Community Connectors grants.
“A positive mentor can change a life,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “Ohio’s students should dream big, and the Community Connectors program provides them with someone to look up to and help get them excited about their futures.”
Community Connectors has funded mentoring projects such as:
- The Rural Scholars at Kent State University, which supports low income students in Columbiana County by offering them community and college-based learning experiences, academic guidance and caring relationships through one-to-one mentoring;
- The Work Readiness Initiative in Clermont County, where mentors utilize their own experiences, networks and knowledge to help students set goals to be prepared for 21st century careers; and
- ALL THAT, Teens Hopeful About Tomorrow, a program in Franklin County that teaches decision-making and critical-thinking skills, financial literacy and other work-related skill sets to students who exhibit chronic absenteeism.
The Ohio Department of Education will accept applications for the program through March 31.
Nonprofit entities, faith- or values-based organizations, houses of worship, community nonprofits and nonprofit entities associated with for-profit businesses are eligible. If the lead applicant is a community nonprofit or nonprofit associated with a for-profit business, a faith- or values-based organization must be included as a partner. Additionally, a community business partner must be included on every application.
Programs can partner with eligible school districts, joint vocational school districts, STEM schools and community schools in which at least 40 percent of the student population is economically disadvantaged or has a graduation rate below 92 percent.
Grantee initiatives should focus on the following principles:
- Setting goals to be prepared for 21st century careers;
- Building character;
- Developing pathways to achievement;
- Building resiliency; and
- Believing in a positive future.
Those organizations and schools that partner in mentoring efforts can receive a maximum award of $100,000, with the state matching $3 for every $1 spent.
More information about the program is available at CommunityConnectors.ohio.gov.