By Kathy L. Collins

The Hillsborough Education Foundation, through the Take Stock in Children Program, matches students in Hillsborough County Public Schools with caring, adult mentors. Currently, the Hillsborough Education Foundation has a record number of mentors matched with students, but there is still a need.

While there are approximately 335 adult mentors matched with students, there are approximately 53 students in need of mentors. The schools in eastern Hillsborough County, such as Durant High School and Strawberry Crest High School, have students who need mentors.

Through the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s mentoring program, mentors meet with their students weekly at their schools. Mentoring relationships are basic human connections that let a young person know they matter, and mentors frequently report back that their relationships with their mentees make them feel like they are truly making a difference.

According to the Hillsborough Education Foundation, research shows that when matched through a quality mentoring program, mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools they need to make responsible decisions, stay focused and engaged in school and reduce or avoid risky behavior like skipping school and using drugs.

“Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects for young people, and that ultimately strengthens our community,” explained Foundation President Phil Jones.

According to The Mentoring Effect, a national report, young people who were at risk for not completing high school, but who had a mentor, were 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have one; 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities; and 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. In addition, students with mentors were more than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or on a sports team.

In Hillsborough County, students who had mentors with the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s program over the last three years reached 98 percent. This is significant compared to the statewide graduation rate of 77.8 percent.

For more information on mentoring a student, visit www.educationfoundation.com/mentoring.