GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: Primerica grant to fund Gwinnett schools mentoring program, December 2, 2017

The mentoring program at Gwinnett County Public Schools has shown steady growth in recent years.

This fall, the program began its ninth year of providing volunteer mentors to male students. The program for boys will serve nearly 600 students in more than 65 schools. There was a goal of recruiting an additional 50 men to join the ranks of the 200 who already are involved in the program. In January, it will begin serving girls.

This week, the district announced that the Primerica Foundation gave a $25,000 grant to the program. James Rayford, director of the program said the grant allows the program to add the girls mentoring component and “hit the ground running.” Leading the effort to create the mentoring program for Gwinnett girls will be former GCPS principal Janice Warren.

Every year, mentors interact and support more than 500 students from across the district. The district is also looking for female volunteer mentors.

“This program will address a need, providing help and support to students who, up to now, may not have been getting it,” Rayford said in a press release. “While the Community-Based Mentoring Program has been a success to date, we recognize that boys aren’t the only ones who need mentors.”

The school program in January had 210 men who volunteered as mentors, including 51 trained since July 2016, to serve 469 students in 57 schools. That’s up from 130 mentors serving more than 300 students two years ago. The program began in 2009 with 50 students.

Rayford has said research shows students involved with a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college, 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities and 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Students are also more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team, as mentors help young people make responsible choices, attend and engage in school and reduce or avoid risky behaviors.