Monday, June 1, 2009
The United Way of Allegheny County is hoping to keep 6th graders in Pittsburgh on the right path. The agency has teamed up with several other organizations, governments and education providers to put out what United Way of Allegheny County President Bob Nelkin labels the “largest call for mentors ever.” He says they are looking for hundreds of adults to commit to meeting with a 6th grade student for 45-minutes a week for at least a year. Nelkin says this is the right time for “Career Education Mentors” to make contact with the kids. He says research shows that the 6th grade is a critical time in a child’s development. That is when many begin the dropout process. He says some stop working, allow their grades to slip and begin to have attendance problems. He says the research also shows mentor programs help to reverse that process. The mentors will follow a program established by the United Way at one of 8 Pittsburgh Public Schools. That program carries 4 goals; Making students aware of what careers are available in Pittsburgh, convincing the students of the importance of good grades, creating a dream for the future in each student and providing a positive adult roll model for the child. The United Way has committed $642-thousand a year to the effort. Those funds would be used for recruiting, training, supervision and evaluation of the program."