Reach & Rise is a free mentoring program established to serve the needs of young people and provide them with positive, growth-inducing relationships with adults through mentoring.
The goal of the program is to make a difference in a child's life.
Who should get involved in Reach & Rise?
Mentees are youth ages 6-17 who may be experiencing challenges with low self-esteem, poor academic progress, peer difficulties, family conflict or poor decision making.
Mentors are adult volunteers ages 21+ who wish to make a positive impact on young people.
Mentors are from varied cultural, educational and professional backgrounds and are often recruited within the YMCA membership, community agencies, local corporations and universities.
How to become a mentor:
Mentors fill out a volunteer application and speak with the Program Director for an initial screening. Mentors who are interested in our One-to-One program must commit to spending 1-3 hours a week with a youth for one year. Those interested in mentoring in our Group program, co-lead groups in which they are matched with up to 8 youth for 8 weeks in the summer, or 14 to 16 weeks in the spring or fall for two hours each week. All Mentors will complete 15 hours of paraprofessional counseling training before being matched to a young person (usually over the course of 4-5 weeks). In addition, all mentors will need to complete a background screening and reference check before being matched with mentees.
How to sign up as a mentee:
Mentees can be referred to the Reach & Rise program by school counselors, teachers, principals, community agencies such as social welfare or counseling agencies, YMCA community, friends, family, or self- referrals. All referrals will undergo an application process and either an initial telephone call or face-to-face screening with the Program Director. This process helps determine whether or not each child is appropriate for the program. Those children assessed to have mental health problems not appropriate for our program will be referred elsewhere. The types of issues not likely to be handled by our mentors include: acute depression, homicidal or suicidal behavior, drug/alcohol dependence, and violent behavior.
To offer over-stressed families a resource to help meet their children’s needs. Mentors are meant to serve as role models, friends, and confidants. They are another source of support for your child and are not meant to take the role of a parent, babysitter, or financier.
Group mentors will meet with their mentee group every week for 2 hours at an assigned site. This may be at a Y facility, school, community center, etc. Parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from the group as well as to the Y facility for their child to meet with their mentor if they are participants in the one-to-one program. Typical times to meet are weekday evenings or the weekend during the day. You should expect consistency from the mentors (e.g. meetings should be held at a consistent site, day and time). If for some reason they are unable to make a meeting, the mentor should call in advance and let you and your child know; if the absence is from the child, parents are expected to communicate with the mentor or Program Director in a timely manner.
Go to the YMCA to play sports or swim, practice social skills through role play and other fun games, community service projects. Group mentors will also utilize a handbook compiled by Reach and Rise to engage youth in discussions and activities relevant to each mentee’s daily life.
Your child should NEVER go to their mentor’s house, spend the night, or go away with mentors for an overnight or weekend stay. If at any time throughout the relationship you are uncomfortable with the type of activities your child is doing with his/her mentor, you should call the Program Director right away to discuss it immediately.
It is important that your child attends mentoring groups and one-to-one meetings regularly and on time. This will help establish the consistency and structure that children need. The relationship between the mentors and your child will be most effective if they are allowed confidentiality. Mentors are trained to discuss situations with you in which the safety and well-being of your child may be jeopardized. If you have any questions, concerns, or are feeling uncomfortable for any reason, it is important to call and discuss it immediately. Children will be more willing to participate fully in the new relationship if they know their parents are comfortable.
For more information contact:
1:1 Mentoring: Contact Erika Swales at ErikaS@ymcaatlanta.org
Group Mentoring: Contact Kaday Kabba-Howard at KadayK@ymcaatlanta.org