December 19, 2013
CHICAGO —Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today launched a new district-wide school volunteer initiative, Mentoring the Next Generation, to form bonds between CPS staff and students, and to further the District’s goal to ensure that every child graduates 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound. This mentoring program will give employees the opportunity in all areas of the District to engage with students in every neighborhood, providing additional literacy support for students.
Beginning this January, CPS employees will have the option to pay weekly visits to elementary schools throughout the District for one-hour mentoring sessions with students in kindergarten and grade 8—those who are just beginning their academic journeys and preparing for the pivotal transition to high school. Mentors will volunteer with students and provide assistance in reading and writing."
“All students need mentors and positive role models to advocate for them and support their success,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “I strongly encourage this endeavor that will help build the solid literacy skills that are essential to the foundation of a promising future for all students.”
All CPS Central Office and non-building employees are eligible to enroll as mentors for either two kindergarten students for one half hour each or one eighth grade student for the full hour. Research indicates that positive adult-child relationships are identified as one of six key elements in a balanced approach to literacy instruction and contribute to the acquisition of strong foundational literacy skills among young learners. In turn, this volunteer opportunity will allow mentors a hands-on opportunity to support students and cultivate a desire to learn.
Each mentor will be required to participate in a two-hour professional learning session prior to receiving their school assignments. The Next Generation Mentors will be given learning packets, including a variety of literacy materials, designed to help to structure activities and stimulate learning with students. The packets and dedicated mentoring sessions are intended to support—not replace—the expert guidance and classroom resources provided by classroom teachers. Principals at schools partnering with the program will oversee the matching of mentors to students and schedule classroom visits.
This new outreach initiative aligns directly with the vision of CEO Byrd-Bennett's Strategic Five-Year Action Plan. Mentors will serve as stewards of the work that reflects the pillars of the plan, supporting the Next Generation of Chicago’s children as they accelerate toward success in college, career and life.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.