Three Portage County-based organizations have received grants totaling about $225,000 to mentor area children.
Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University and the Ravenna School District are recipients of the Community Connections Grant, all for mentoring programs each school coordinates.
Kent will receive $100,000 for its Rural Scholars Program, which provides individual and group mentoring to offer college and community-based learning experiences to low-income children. The program takes place out of the Columbiana County campuses of KSU.
NEOMED will receive $94,721 for its Health Professions Affinity Community program. The program mentors students in local high schools, helping them come up with solutions to address health issues in their communities.
The Ravenna School District will receive $35,000 for its Empowering People In Connection, a program that connects students with adult mentors.
The KSU program seeks to connect college freshmen at the East Liverpool and Salem Campuses with students in the program, mentoring those students and encouraging them to continue their education. The program involves elementary students, as well as those in grades 7 through 12, the program's website states.
NEOMED spokesman Jared Slanina said the H-Pac program is a "pipeline program" of the university that seeks to reach high school students interested in the health professions. More than 2,500 students state-wide are involved in the program, he said.
The H-Pac chapters meet and agree to take on a health concern in their community, such as substance abuse or childhood obesity, and research ways to address the issue. The chapters meet each April for a Scholars Day, which brings in 1,000 participants statewide.
Susan Huth, a director of teaching and learning at the Ravenna School District, said the EPIC program connects middle and high school students with adult mentors. The Community Action Council serves as the fiscal agent for the group, and local partners include include Passages, the Parker Hannifin Corporation and the Upward Bound program at Kent State University.
The first year of the program had eight adult mentors who worked with ten students, who met twice a week to discuss character traits, career and academic issues. Part of the grant money was used to purchase copies of "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: Tough Stuff" and students and their mentors alike would take turns reading from the books during mentoring session. Often, those stories helped students and mentors to talk more openly.
The grant also provided gift cards to Walmart for students to "dress for success," buying outfits to wear during job interviews.
Huth said several of the students in the program were interested in returning, and all the volunteer mentors are interested in returning.
"This made a difference in the lives of the students, and made a difference for the adults as well," she said.
This is as waste of taxpayer's money. It will do nothing for the kids but will make money for those administrating it.