Participants are provided with individual and group mentoring geared towards academic growth and development. The after school program works with approximately 50 students each year, providing needed skills through monthly workshops, guest speakers, and local college campus tours, all designed to build upon one another.
To date, there are over 200 students who have completed the program. 86 students have graduated college with a B.A./B.S. degree, and 13 of those also received an M.A./M.S. degree. Another 107 students are currently in college working towards their undergraduate degrees while 3 students are pursuing their M.A./M.S. degree.
Many past program graduates serve as mentors or volunteer speakers in the Higher Education Mentoring Program, giving their time to enhance the college experience of younger Latinos who share the same goal of higher education. Each mentor is screened and provided with training and guidance. He/she arranges to meet with his/her mentee individually or in a small group to assist with researching colleges and majors, completing admissions applications, and researching scholarships and financial aid, while offering their motivation and encouragement.
Parent involvement is key. Parents are invited to attend all monthly workshops, as well as quarterly “platicas” given in Spanish. Bilingual/bicultural program staff is available to provide parental support, which motivates and assists parents as they navigate the educational system in support of their sons and daughters. Parents of past participants have formed a support group, speaking at workshops and providing Q&A sessions for new parents.
The Higher Education Mentoring Program has had tremendous success in guiding young students to pursue their dreams of attending institutions of higher learning. Upon completion of the program, graduates are recognized at a congratulatory celebration and receive “college-starter kits” and backpacks filled with educational supplies, provided by OCBF board members and sponsoring firms, to start them on their journey to becoming tomorrow’s leaders.