BRIDGES helps youths in the Fort Dodge Community School District grow and become better students by providing them with a mentor.
"Youths who are mentored receive support and guidance from a caring adult, can show measurable improvements in academic achievements, attendance and disciplinary referrals," Corey Moody, mentoring coordinator, said. "Mentored youth are more likely to stay in school and graduate and show improvements in interpersonal relationships."
Mentorship begins at the elementary level.
"We start pretty young and hopefully they stay with the same student as they go up through the grades," Moody said. "We continue to look for positive adults to come into the school once a week."
After a background check and some mentorship training, mentors spend a minimum one hour a week with a youth. A mentor should be a caring adult, Moody said, consistent in visiting each week.
"We're trying to add a positive person in their lives so they'll be more successful," he said.
BRIDGES has more than 85 active mentors currently, helping students in all 12 grades. This year, 25 Iowa Central students began mentoring youths from Fair Oaks and Phillips middle schools.
According to Moody, more mentors are always needed.
"I've got kids on waiting lists at almost every school," Moody said.
Moody said he has seen the benefits of a student having a mentor, especially toward improved attendance.
"In the lower grades, attendance is an issue with some of those students and that has continued to improve," he said. "I think just the overall success of the student as far as wanting to come to school, doing some fun things."
BRIDGES does not seek to "replace a parent" but instead to "add a positive role model."
Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way this year is sponsoring BRIDGES, a first for the nonprofit.
"One of our goals as the Community Foundation is to help our youth reach their full potential academically and developmentally," Randy Kuhlman, chief executive officer, said. "Mentoring is a great strategy for helping youth that need a good positive adult role model in their lives to help them reach their full potential. That's why we're enthusiastic about being a funding partner for the BRIDGES program."
For more information about becoming a mentor contact Corey Moody, BRIDGES coordinator, at 574-5469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.