Communities In Schools received a $5,000 grant on behalf of the organization’s “Mentoring Our Students to Success” program and was honored by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and executives from Bank of America and Washington State Mentors at the Vaughn Elementary library at the end of October.
The initiative, funded by Bank of America and administered by Washington State Mentors, supports quality mentoring programs serving youth living in lower income brackets. “Mentoring is a potent agent for positive change in society,” said Owen, who is co-chair of the Issaquah-based non profit. “Research has shown that a structured and trusting relationship between a young person and a caring adult is related to reductions in youth pregnancy, violence and substance abuse. As well, mentoring is associated with improved academic performance.”
CISP began with volunteer mentors in Vaughn Elementary some 10 years ago and since then has spread to 10 schools in the Peninsula School District. Each such school has witnessed improved attitudes and performances on the part of at risk students benefiting from the program. Mentors work one-on-one with elementary school students to help them with their reading skills, and work in small groups or one-on-one with middle schoolers to help them with math.
CISP President Dick Vanberg noted that, given CISP’s expanded responsibilities throughout the district, the program welcomes volunteers interested in serving as mentors in reading and math. “We have a brief training program for incoming mentors and ask that they volunteer just one hour each week. The program is in our schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels,” he said.
Among those at the ceremony were volunteer CISP mentors, Peninsula Schools’ Superintendent Terry Bouck, assistant superintendents Shannon Wiggs and Claudia Thompson, school principals Michael Benoit, Jacque Crisman, and Steve Leitz, Washington State Sen. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Larry Seaquist, and members of the CISP Board of Directors, who serve without compensation.
The Bank of America Mentoring Initiative funded 12 programs in Washington and one in Idaho; CISP was the only recipient in Pierce County.
Vanberg’s words of encouragement for volunteers were expressed as well by CISP’s Executive Director Colleen Speer who requested that those interested in learning more of the program call the CISP office at 884-5733.