Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region (BBBS) and Oshkosh North High School have partnered for the launch of Mentor 2.0, a technology-based mentoring program that makes it easier for mentors and mentees to communicate throughout the week. Mentor 2.0 pairs at-risk high school students, typically freshmen, with an older mentor (a “Big”) to help them build college and career skills throughout their high school journey.
“We really hope this program will help our students not only graduate high school, but continue on to have a plan after that,” says Marketing and Recruitment Director Amanda Knueppel. “This really is a four year program, so we are walking these students all the way from freshman year to graduation.”
Mentors and mentees communicate with each other about four times a month through a text-only online platform. Mentors are provided with professional guidance from BBBS staff, including conversation prompts that center around college readiness topics. Although mentors and mentees are free to continue their conversation outside these prompts, they are used to educate the student on college or post-graduation information that will be helpful to them.
In addition to weekly online communication, mentors meet with their mentees at Oshkosh North High School once a month for a two hour event.
There is only one other Mentor 2.0 program in Wisconsin, located in Milwaukee, but the program yields successful statistics all around the nation. According to iMentor 2018 statistics, students who are part of the program are 80 percent more likely to complete college than their high school peers.
“There are students in every high school throughout our district who could benefit from a more comprehensive and/or alternative approach to academic and career planning,” Knueppel says. “This program empowers BBBS to ally with our school partners to meet this need in an innovative way.”
However, the program cannot flourish in the Fox Cities if there are not enough mentors to volunteer. Effective January 1, BBBS and Best Friends of Neenah Menasha will merge into one youth mentoring agency known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin. Together, the organizations have more than 150 children on a waiting list.
“The need for mentors is great in the Fox Cities and Oshkosh and all the areas we serve,” Knueppel says.
Mentors must be 21 year of age or older, have an Associates Degree or higher, and live or work in Outagamie, Calumet, Winnebago, or Waupaca counties. To complete a mentor application, please visit www.bbbsfvr.org