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midlands mentoring partnership

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It's no coincidence that National Mentoring Month is observed in January and the Midlands Mentoring Partnership (MMP) holds its annual conference Jan. 27-28.

The campaign and the event draw awareness to the need for more mentors and recognize the efforts of individuals and groups. Estimates put the number of Omaha youth who could prosper from a mentor at 30,000, compared with 3,000 mentors.

Closing that gap is a priority because studies show mentoring reduces absenteeism and tardiness, improves grades and increases graduation rates. “Building Bright Futures believes in improving quality standards and diversity of mentors in our community in order to improve the academic success of at-risk students” stated JohN CavaNaugh, Executive Director of Building Bright Futures.

Midlands Mentoring Partnership aspires to make Omaha a model mentoring community by nurturing programs that use best practices. The City of omaha and Building Bright futures partner is made up of 14 member mentoring organizations. Some, like Big Brothers Big sisters of the Midlands, girls iNC., Partnership for our Kids Child saving institute and oMaha home for Boys, have been around for decades. Others, like Hope Center for Kids and 100 Black Men, are more recent. All have strong mentoring program track records.

MMP adheres to strict National Mentoring Partnership standards.

“Last year we became a formal affiliate member of the National Mentoring Partnership,” says MMP executive director deBorah Neary. “There’s only 22 organizations in the country that have that status. We are working together to roll out a data tool to continue to improve quality mentoring.”

Neary expects member organizations will soon be collecting data via a new data software program that will help show more clearly the impact mentoring makes. She says it will be the most comprehensive mentoring data collection and analysis done anywhere in the U.S.

To be an MMP member, she says organizations must “demonstrate they're following certain standards for mentoring, because we really advocate for high quality mentoring.” One standard requires a mentor make a one year, four hours per month commitment. “We don't want a youth who's had lots of disappointments in life to be disappointed again by a mentor that doesn't last very long,” she says.

Organizations are carefully vetted through a “peer review process” to ensure adherence to standards, says Neary. “We have some of the more established mentoring organizations actually mentor some of the newer programs. We’re doing that right now with two new mentoring programs in the pipeline -- Mercy Housing and Loves Jazz & Arts Center. They're being mentored by TeamMates and Partnership for Our Kids.”

She says an esprit de corps runs throughout the Partnership.

“These organizations are really focused on the mission and working together. The thought is we don't want to reinvent the wheel. There’s no competitive spirit. They all believe in mentoring, they believe every kid can benefit.”

Neary says MMP goes beyond national standards on mentor background checks. “We've put financial support behind that, so we pay member organizations’ costs for doing more extensive screenings.”

Additionally, she says, “we see to it the mentor-mentee relationship is monitored by the organization on a monthly basis to make sure that student is benefiting and is safe and secure, that mentor has the training they need, and that there are resources available. I know a lot of our organizations offer free opportunities to visit attractions to give mentors things to do with their mentees so there’s no out of pocket expense for either one.

“We've had 100 percent buy in by organizations in agreeing to uphold standards, it’s been an exciting process.”

Neary says the standards are more than window dressing.

“All the research shows all the great things happening because of mentoring are based on mentoring being done by these certain standards. So while every single program is completely different, serving different audiences, structured differently, happening at different times of day, they all follow the same standards.”

Omaha philanthropist diCK hollaNd, a BBF board Chairman and mentoring advocate, says the experience is too important not to have training and accountability guidelines and the need too great to not support proven mentoring efforts.

“It really takes something to be a great mentor. It should not be undertaken lightly,” he says. “A good mentor has to have the ability to educate with some rigor, you can’t just be nice or friendly. I mean, there’s got to be a relationship where you're together trying to make some progress with regard to education and behavior.

“There’s a whole list of things that should be changed and improved to help the educational opportunities for children living in poverty and mentoring is one of them.”

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle says he’s put the weight of his office behind mentoring initiatives like MMP to help prevent or mitigate risky behaviors in youth. The mayor says the city acts as “a catalyst” to funnel mentors and support where needed. MMP serves a similar function by sponsoring mentoring organization staff at professional conferences, offering mentor education workshops and granting monies to mentoring programs.

Then there’s recognition. MMPs 2012 Mentor of the Year is laura hoPP. The Duchesne Academy senior mentors Cassie through the peer mentoring program Just frieNds at the ollie WeB CeNter. She's been mentoring since age 13. MeNtor advoCate of the year is the KieWit CorPoratioN, Kiewit has 107 employees volunteering as teaMMates. Kiewit CEO BruCe greWCoCK serves on the TeamMates board of directors. The company encourages and facilitates mentors spending time with their mentees.

Mayor Suttle sees recognition as one way “to call attention” to an ever pressing need. “I don't know that we ever find the job is done,” he says. “This is a continual effort that seems to have more and more growing needs.”

Neary says MMP can match inquirers to a youth program that best suits them. “There’s some way for everybody to be involved – as mentors, tutors, readers. Helping one youth at a time is so rewarding.”

To learn more about mentoring and the Midlands Mentoring Partnership visit www.mmpomaha.org.


big brothers big sisters of the midlands
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands (BBBS) believes that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 7 through 14, throughout the Omaha/Council Bluffs area. BBBS help develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people. As a donor and volunteer supported mentoring organization, they are here to help children reach their potential, and through them, transform families, schools and communities.
For more information contact:
Sheryl Lindau at (slindau@bigomaha.org) or
Shawna Singhoff at (ssinghoff@bigomaha.org)


boys & girls clubs of the midlands
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands (BGCM) reach thousands of youth each year. BGCM deliver a proven youth development strategy, access to Club services five days a week, a safe
and clean environment, life-changing programs, and the opportunity to receive mentoring experiences and relationships with diverse, trained and caring staff and volunteers in a supervised and structured environment. Just as a Boys & Girls Club staff member’s one-to-one work with each boy or girl is the key ingredient to deepening impact, a volunteer mentor’s personal attention and guidance can truly open new doors of hope and opportunity for them.
For more information contact: Regina Tullos-Williams at (rtwilliams@bgcomaha.org)


child saving institute
Child Saving Institute (CSI) provides three different mentoring opportunities to Omaha’s Community. In the School and Family Enrichment (SAFE) program, CSI partners with Omaha Public School students in developing social skills, increasing coping skills, enhancing their self image, learning strategies for responsible decision-making, assisting with homework and providing one-on-one support and friendship. In the Independent Living Skills (ILS) program mentors help with children aging out of the Foster Care System prepare for independent life. Mentors are instrumental in helping with job preparation and finding resources for continued education. Child Saving Institute also offers mentoring opportunities for Young Parents to help meet their goals of continued education, reducing the risk of abuse and neglect for their infants and learning problem solving and independent living skills.
For more information contact: Sherri Harris at (sharris@childsavings.org)


girls inc. pathfinder
The Pathfinders Mentoring Program at Girls Incorporated of Omaha encourages all girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold! In an inequitable society, mentoring has been critical to the success and achievement of many women. Pathfinders is a long-term
match program where mentors work with a young lady until she is a senior in high school. Girls are accepted into the program between the ages of 10 and 14. At a minimum, mentors are asked to mentor a girl for three years. The time commitment for Pathfinders is: one 3-hour initial training session, one meeting with the mentee per month for at least two hours, weekly contact with the mentee via phone or e-mail, and quarterly group workshops.
For more information contact: Antonia Valentine at (avalentine@girlsincomaha.org).


goodwill goodguides
Goodwill® GoodGuides is a national mentoring program for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who are at risk for making harmful choices such as dropping out of school or joining a gang. These youth may also be at risk for delinquency. The goal of the GoodGuides program is to help youth build career plans and skills, and prepare for school completion, post-secondary training, and productive work. Funded by a two-year grant to Goodwill Industries International from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Goodwill GoodGuides program is run by 56 independent Goodwill agencies around the country.
For more information contact: Miriam Blair at (mblair@goodwillomaha.org.)


gmbc amachi mentoring
GMBC Amachi is a unique partnership involving both the secular and faith-based organizations working together to provide mentoring for children impacted by incarcerated
parents and/or high crime areas. Launched in Philadelphia in 2000, Amachi has spread rapidly; there are now least 350 Amachi-modeled programs in more than 100 US cities and all 50 states. In Omaha, the Amachi Mentoring Coalition Project is a program of the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church.
For more information contact: Kainette Jones at (k.jones@mbc.omhcoxmail.com)


hope center for kids
The Hope Center for Kids is an after-school and summer program located in North Omaha. Relationships are at the heart of our program as we work to faithfully inspire hope in youth and children through faith, education, employment and collaboration. Many of the Hope Center members simply need the support of a positive adult, to initiate significant change. Mentors spend six hours per month with a specific student in fourth through twelfth grade. This time can include a combination of program activities and pursuing interests one-on-one.
For more information contact: volunteer@hopecenterforkids.com or 402-341-4673, 1002.


midwest trailblazers youth program
The Midwest Trailblazers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, composed of a group of committed volunteers – Board of Directors, coaches, parents, and administrators working together to support our young scholar athletes. Generous sponsorships and donations help offset the cost of running the program allowing us to minimize player registration fees. The Midwest Trailblazers Youth Program puts students, athletics, academics, and community first. Using grassroots strategies, Trailblazers works with students to help them hone interpersonal, academic, and athletic skills so they go on to be productive citizens for their community, state, nation, and world.
For more information contact: Nicole Nash at nnash31@gmail.com


ollie webb center, inc.
The Just Friends Program of Ollie Webb Center, Inc. is a peer mentoring and friendship program that matches adolescents (ages 13 – 18 years) with developmental disabilities (e.g., Learning Disabilities, Down syndrome, Autism, etc.) to adolescents without disabilities. Just Friends was created to bring social, recreational and friendship opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Volunteer Mentors are asked to make a one year commitment in which they hang out with their ‘friend’ twice a month by participating in social/recreational activities such as bowling, shopping, movies, etc. and making weekly telephone contact.
For more information contact: Lisa Dougherty at (ldougherty@olliewebbinc.org)


omaha home for boys
The Omaha Home for Boys is a non-profit residential group home that provides a structured living environment in a cottage setting with caring House Parents, balanced meals and educational support for boys ages 10-18. The Omaha Home for Boys is looking for adults who have a strong desire to work with youth and are willing to commit to a weekly phone call and one outing per month. For residents at the Omaha Home for Boys, being mentored is a chance for a youth to receive individual attention from a caring adult and, most importantly, a chance to just have fun.
For more information contact: Nicole Heim at (nicoleh@omahahomeforboys.org)


release ministries
The Juvenile Justice Mentoring Programis designed to help youth lay a foundation upon which they can continue to build toward success in every aspect of life. This spiritual foundation is the launching point that empowers them to reach beyond themselves and their circumstance into an arena of promise for their future. The mentor is matched to a youth in a one-to-one relationship in order to become a trusted friend and guide. The relationship building may take place within a detention, group home facility and/or out in the community. The mentor and the youth meet once a week for 1 to 4 hours. The focus of the match is relationship building with emphasis on enabling the youth in their spiritual growth. Structured activities may include goal setting, strength assessment and vocational guidance, and discipleship exercises.
For more information contact:
Woody Winchell at (woody@releaseministries.org)
Marcus Brown at (marcus@releaseministries.org)
Sandra Preston at (Sandra@releaseministries.org)


teammates mentoring program
The TeamMates Mentoring Program was co-founded by Tom and Nancy Osborne in 1991. Presently, there are over 5,000 mentors across Nebraska and Iowa in over 100 chapters. TeamMates is a school-based, one-to-one mentoring program. Volunteers who wish to be TeamMates mentors are screened and trained before they are sent to be matched to an elementary, middle or high school student. Mentors spend about an hour a week with a student in a school during school hours. The commitment is for a minimum of one year with the goal of following the same student through high school graduation. A TeamMates mentor is a positive role model that gives a young person a sense of hope, purpose and vision.
For more information contact:
Julie Swain at (jswain@teammates.org)
or Tom Miller at (tmiller@teammates.org)


the partnership for our kids
All Our Kids is a scholarship program providing group mentoring to over 600 Omaha Public School students from 6th-12th grades. Mentors act as role models and participate in the age appropriate curriculum such as: community service projects, career exploration, college access, youth leadership development, academic goal setting, tutoring, prevention education and field trips. All Our Kids gives committed adults the opportunity to improve public education by spending time with students twice a month in a fun structured environment.
For more information contact:
Jessica Warren at (jwarren@thepartnershipforourkids.org)
or Phil Jarrett at (pjarrett@thepartnershipforourkids.org)


youth emergency services
Youth Emergency Services (YES) has four programs that strive to provide homeless, at-risk and street dependent youth with the support necessary to thrive. We have a Drop In Center and Emergency Shelter that serves youth ages 13-21. Our two newest programs are the Maternity Group Home and Transitional Living Program serving youth ages 16-21 in the Omaha and Council Bluffs areas. The mentoring program at YES serves the youth in the Maternity Group Home and Transitional Living Program. The mentors provide support and guidance as the residents work to become independent and successful. We ask our mentors to make a commitment to the youth for the duration of their time at YES, with one face-to-face meeting per month and regular contact.
For more information contact: 402-345-5187


100 black men
The 100 Black Men of Omaha, Inc. (100) was established in 1995 when a group of concerned men realized that the survival of the Omaha community rested on their willingness to join together and be a vehicle for positive change. Today the 100 Black Men of Omaha is one of over 100 chapters nationally and internationally that make up the 100 Black Men of America, an alliance of leading African-American men from a myriad of professions.
For more information contact: Dejuan Reddick at (dreddick@100blackmenomaha.org)

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