Area Schools and Youth Serving Organization Seek Volunteer Mentors as Graduation Rate Improvement Initiative Moves to Second Phase

Ashwaubenon School District joins second round, scope expands to 17 schools for beta test

Seventeen area schools from four districts are collaborating on the second phase of an initiative to improve graduation rates in Brown County.

This second phase, or beta test, builds on the first-phase experiences of the 2018/2019 school year, where four schools in three districts piloted an innovative mentorship initiative that served 53 students between January and May.

That mentorship initiative combined the resources of Denmark School District, Green Bay Area Public School District and Howard-Suamico School District with the support of mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin, Family Services of Brown County, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay.

Available data from 39 of the mentored students in that pilot show about half of them improved their grades (48%) and attendance (51%), and a few of them (10%) showed improved school behavior. 

The initiative is heading into the next phase of testing this fall and adding Ashwaubenon School District to the list of participating schools, so organizers are seeking 100 additional adult volunteers to begin working with middle school students in September. They are recruiting now to ensure mentors are screened and trained before school begins.

“Because it takes several weeks to assess potential mentors, including a background check, we would like potential Six-Twelve mentors to start the process now,“ said Katie Hess, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin. “This will ensure that we can match them as early in the school year as possible, and then we can have nearly a full school year to measure outcomes.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin is managing the application and matching process and supporting mentors during the match. Those relationships begin in middle school and early high school and, organizers hope, will extend through a student’s high school graduation.

Volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters will be matched with middle school students in the agency’s Six-Twelve Mentoring program.

Continuing alongside Big Brothers Big Sisters into the beta test is the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay and its BE GREAT: Graduate program. These agencies share goals to increase academic performance, improve attendance rates and increase graduation rates.

Area schools that were part of the pilot initiative will also continue into the beta test. They include Bay Port High School, Denmark Middle School, Edison Middle School and Preble High School.

“Our pilot test showed us that our collective actions have potential and we are on the right track,” said Spencer Bonnie, interim executive director for Achieve Brown County. His agency is facilitating the mentorship initiative. “We also learned that we benefit from more lead time to recruit volunteer mentors.”

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a mentor for this initiative should go online to GraduationTaskForce.org. Volunteers may also register for a no-obligation information session led by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin at bbbsnew.org or call (920) 498-2227.

About Achieve Brown County

Achieve Brown County is a collaborative, community-led, collective impact organization focused on leveraging the combined power of a shared community vision, evidence-based decision-making, and collaborative action to advance positive, cradle-to-career outcomes for all young people. Online at https://www.achievebrowncounty.org/.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin is a donor- and volunteer-supported non-profit organization that has been professionally matching area youth with volunteers since 1972. Our mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite and power and promise of youth. Online at https://bbbsnew.org/.