In 2021, we launched our pilot College Success Mentoring program (CSM) for students who completed our high school program and are now enrolled in community colleges, universities, trade schools, or apprenticeships.
In the CSM program, students are paired with a college success mentor for monthly one-hour video calls and discussion topics that are more student lead, as compared to our high school programs that are generally steered by our classroom facilitators and mentors. CSM mentors are given guidance on the month’s curriculum and a video to watch together, and then the discussion is student-led, encouraging them to express their needs, discuss obstacles they’re facing, and work with their mentors to identify solutions. In talking with our CSM mentors about their students’ experience post-high school, several found that their students were worried about how they would afford the dreams they were pursuing in the face of educational expenses.
“Many of our students who are now in their continuing education programs do not have the money they need to fully pay for school, housing, books, technology, transportation, and living expenses,” said our President and CEO, Kristina Marshall.
To help these students make ends meet and stay in school we established our College Support Fund (CSF), which provides direct financial assistance to CSM students who request it. Funds can be used to pay for tuition, car repairs, appliance maintenance, technology for school, medical bills, or any other potential financial barrier that would keep them from pursuing continuing education. In January 2022, we received a generous $108,000 grant from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation for the CSF which allowed us to expand our per-student support to $2,500
Within the first month of launching the CSF, 18 students requested a total of $25,000 in support. One of those students was Chelly – a first-year and first-generation college student at Wayne State University. She also serves in the National Guard and works at a daycare center, but when it came to paying for her first semester of college, she found herself in a bind.
“I have a job, I received a grant, and I also get military assistance for tuition,” said Chelly. “But because of COVID-19, work hours are often getting cut, so some weeks I’m not making as much as I’m used to. This makes paying bills harder than it already is.”
Chelly was awarded $1,890 in assistance through the CSF and is eligible to apply for up to $610 more this school year.
Our goal with CSF is to continually fundraise to make this a sustainable resource for students. To advance the CSM program to include financial support will have a greater impact on student outcomes.
Help us build this program. Donate today! Dreams are worth supporting.
About The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation
The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives in profoundly positive ways through grants focused on health, youth and family, and animal welfare. The Foundation believes in working with organizations in its focus areas to create opportunity, have community impact, and promote wellbeing. For more information, visit www.dresnerfoundation.org.