The leaders of an Omaha-based youth-mentoring program have announced a new alliance with three other mentoring groups that's expected to eliminate duplication and provide a “continuum of care” to help take young people from kindergarten to careers.
Under the alliance, Partnership 4 Kids will shift its focus to children in kindergarten through ninth grade, Mike Yanney, the organization's founder, said during a press conference at Norris Middle School.
The group will phase out its work with upperclassmen and “have them really ready” for its three other youth-mentoring partners — TeamMates, Avenue Scholars and College Possible.
“All of our organizations are working diligently with one focus, and that is to get our youth educated and get them employable,” said Yanney, who remains on the group's board.
Deb Denbeck, Partnership 4 Kids' president and executive director, said the alliance puts the youth of Omaha at the forefront and provides help to take them from the start of their schooling to a career. “These are young people who need and want our help so they can have a bright future,” she said.
TeamMates, a mentoring program founded by Tom and Nancy Osborne, works with youths to provide support and encouragement. While Avenue Scholars and College Possible each have a slightly different emphasis, both work with low-income high school juniors and seniors to help them get into college and succeed there.
Tom Osborne said each of the organizations brings something to the table. Estimates indicate at least 18 million children in the United States need a mentor. The actual number, he said, is probably much higher.
“Almost anyone can use a mentor, somebody's who's an advocate, somebody who will provide a vision for their lives,” he said. The partnership, he said, will enable the groups to serve more young people in an effective and efficient manner.
Osborne said earlier this week that he plans to focus more attention on Teammates after he officially leaves the NU athletic department on June 30. He retired as athletic director Jan. 1 but has remained in the department since then.
TeamMates is approaching 7,000 matches across Nebraska and Iowa and has a chapter in San Diego. The group would like to hit 10,000 matches by 2015. That would require adding 1,000 mentors a year over the next three years.
Partnership 4 Kids serves about 5,100 children in 12 Omaha elementary schools, six middle schools and four high schools, Denbeck said. When it completes its shift, it will work with 4,800 or more young people in kindergarten through ninth grade.
The 2013-14 school year will be a transition year, she said. Seniors graduating in 2014 will not be affected by the change. Sophomores and juniors will work with their program coordinators to determine which agency will fulfill their needs going forward.
At the elementary level, the program works with every student in the school, teaching goal-setting skills and celebrating successes. Then the program recruits young people for its after-school group mentoring program at middle schools.
Under its new program, the group will work to give freshmen tools for high school success and to transition to another mentoring organization. The program will be enhanced by new partnerships with the Gallup Organization, the Business Ethics Alliance at Creighton University and others.
College Possible, created 13 years ago in Minnesota, came to Omaha in 2012. The group helps juniors and seniors prepare for the ACT, exposes them to college fairs, assists them in applying for and selecting a college, and encourages citizenship and volunteerism.
Avenue Scholars, begun in 2008, helps more than 600 metro-area juniors and seniors in their efforts to advance through a post-secondary program and on to a career.
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