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Communities Foundation report: STARS mentors

Organization: STARS Mentoring Program

Project: Encouraging mentor/mentee relationships

Report: Success Through Adults Reaching Students is a nonprofit mentoring program in Freeborn County and the eastern portion of Faribault County. The program is dedicated to providing adult mentors to youth who are in need of guidance or support in order to empower them to make positive life choices and develop to their fullest potential, according to a press release. Mentors support youth by being their friend and building a relationship of trust.

The program has 24 mentor/mentee relationships. The funding will help with operational support to increase the number of children served and provide ongoing support to these existing mentoring relationships. Mentoring is a proven strategy for preventing youth from engaging in alcohol and drug use, skipping school and other at-risk behaviors, the release states. Having a mentor empowers young people to make smart choices that put them on a path to making better life decisions.

Young people participating in quality mentoring programs are more likely to do better in school and have aspirations for college and career that ultimately strengthens their community. Mentoring is a proven cost-effective investment: for every $1 invested in mentoring, there is a $3 return to society, according to the release.

Group events are also sponsored through this funding. This past summer, the mentoring program enjoyed having its annual picnic at Pioneer Park with food, games and tie-dying T-shirts. The group canoed, kayaked and paddleboarded two times that summer at the Community Education Boathouse. They  also visited the Freeborn County Historical Museum for hands-on experience with the historical village by participating in a scavenger hunt and eating a meal of pizza. This winter it looks forward to new funding, which will again provide other group events and activities such as swimming, fun and games at the Family Y; and the annual “Paint and Pastries” canvas painting event led by an art teacher through The Albert Lea Art Center. During January’s National Mentoring Month, the group will have mentor appreciation and outreach promotions to publicize its mentoring program.