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Volunteer mentoring program nurtures a child’s potential

Volunteer mentoring program nurtures a child’s potential

Written By: Team CMC

Be A Mentor provides more than 400 Charleston youth with one-on-one adult support

For children with unequal opportunities, labels don't help — people do.

That's the role of Be A Mentor, a volunteer organization that works with children "on the brink of success" for nearly 20 years.

"We focus on the positive and believe in the potential of all children," says Alexandra Moor English, executive director the Charleston, SC, non-profit that provides one-on-one mentorship to more than 400 youths. "Every child is one caring adult away from achieving their own dreams."

Started as a referral organization in 2004, it shifted to a mentorship program when the team realized kids were falling through the cracks. Alexandra credits the success of the program to community members who make a difference in these kids' lives.

Working through the school system, each mentor meets one-on-one for a minimum of one year. The kids range in age from kindergarten to seniors in high school and come from 26 schools in the Charleston area. Mentors focus on helping to develop social and emotional skills, creating strong, trusting relationships, and nurturing individual interests.

In an area where the graduation rate is 66%, youths in the mentorship program had a 100% graduation rate in 2022. In addition to tutoring, volunteers teach youths how to self-advocate and seek additional help for academic support.

Mentors are trained to be nurturers of possibilities. They explore different types of jobs in fields that interest the child, explaining what kind of education is needed and a career path's earning potential.

One longtime mentor focuses specifically on helping seniors get into college. He helps them with the application process and applying for financial aid and scholarships. So far, he's helped at least six first-generation college students.

In addition to working through the schools, Be A Mentor now includes the St. Julien Devine Center, a community center that serves kids after school and in the summer, doubling the number of kids served. Located on the East Side of Charleston, the center is a safe space in an area that experiences ongoing gang violence.

The team at Be A Mentor believe that parent education is an important piece of the puzzle and offer classes and resources to fill needs, partnering with other community resources to avoid duplicating efforts.

"Ours is a holistic approach, and we focus on responding to what the community actually needs," says Alexandra. "Mentoring is transformative, it builds the strength of the whole community."

Learn more at www.beamentornow.org.


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