“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
Meet your match
Access to positive, capable and consistent role models is regarded to be a key factor in the ability of low income students to successfully navigate the years of adolescence. The is particularly true where students are largely first-generation and may the lack the familial support necessary to navigate through the complex application and financial aid process. Applying for college is a confusing process that takes time, and teenagers in general do not have the “college knowledge” necessary to take the right courses, meet deadlines and acquire the adequate resources for financial aid without support.
The Mission Squash Mentoring Program matches “Challengers” (adult professionals in the community) with “Challengers” (Scholars currently enrolled in the Mission Squash program) to build positive relationships that provide long-term advice and guidance, access to high school and college networks, and careers support.
In addition to regular phone and email contact, Champions and Challengers spend time together approximately ten times a year and participate in activities of their choosing. Outings can include museum trips, sporting events, community service opportunities and supporting scholars at squash tournaments or team matches. Although mentors typically prefer to schedule time with their mentees individually, Mission Squash also hosts an optional calendar of events for mentors and mentees throughout the year.
Outcomes for our Scholars
By providing a consistent and long-term source of advice and support, objective guidance from a professional outside their immediate network helps our Scholars hit their goals:
- Increased social mobility through introduction to new networks
- Development of personal character through extended interactions with professional adults
- Increased access and awareness of educational opportunities inside and outside of Texas
- Focus on ambition and goal setting, helping scholars reach their potential
In his much cited work “The Kindness of Strangers: Adult Mentors, Urban Youth and the New Voluntarism,” Marc Freedman puts it succinctly:
Many Americans care deeply about the fate of young people growing up in poverty… we would like to make a difference, yet this yearning is so often stifled by the sheer magnitude of social problems and by the absence of mechanisms for reaching out. We want to help, but don’t know how to begin.
Mentoring has emerged as a vehicle for translating yearning into action… rather than take on the overwhelming weight of urban issues, mentors are afforded the opportunity to connect with a single individual.
Marc Freedman, The Kindness of Strangers
Mission Squash provides a safe and unique mechanism for reaching out. With our students engaged in such a vibrant and fun program that they feel real ownership over, and a busy calendar of events throughout the year to get involved in, there are many opportunities to share in their successes.
- 10 face-to-face interactions per calendar year lasting a minimum of 90 minutes
- Monthly phone call
- Available for Email / SMS contact where appropriate (monitored by MS staff)
- 1 Year minimum commitment, with the intention of continuing support through college graduation if the match is positive
- Background check required