"The Mentoring Program gives kids a chance to show they really can succeed at school and a reason to keep trying to improve their lives. One of the main reasons this program works so well is that the kids know they have a caring adult they can call anytime so they don’t have to feel so alone with their problems."
Who We Serve
Elementary school and high school children from homeless or disadvantaged families.
Why There Is a Need
Statistics have historically indicated a higher school drop-out rate for children from low-income families where parents often feel trapped in a cycle of poverty and offer their children little encouragement to succeed academically.
- Students from low income families are six times as likely to drop out as children from wealthy families. 8% of drop outs have spent some time in a homeless shelter or in a juvenile home.
- Young people who do not finish high school face reduced employment opportunities and represent a high cost to society. Drop-outs make up nearly 50% of the heads of households on welfare and nearly half of the prison population.
- To reduce drop-out rates, intervention at an early age is critical; 20% of students who drop out do so by eighth grade and more than half drop out by tenth grade.
- African American and Hispanic students make up the largest proportion of drop-outs. (53% of children in the Mentoring Program are African American; 41% are Hispanic).
- Building one-to-one relationships between at-risk children and caring adults in mentoring programs is one of the most effective ways of bringing out a child’s potential and ensuring that the child will make better choices. Mentored youth are:
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
The Mentoring Program was established in 2004 as an extension of our Summer Camp in order to maintain contact with at-risk campers and counselors throughout the year, help them to perform better academically and encourage them to attain a higher level of education.
The program provides individual and group tutoring in local libraries, Elm Street Community Center in Yonkers, and at the Coachman Family Shelter in White Plains from 3:00-7:00 p.m., four days a week or as needed by students. Children attend as they are able, but many come daily, craving both the academic support as well as the individual attention that so many do not get at home.
On occasional weekends, children participate in sports programs or volunteer with the Special Olympics.
Through a grant provided by Con Edison, children are also involved in “Kids Going Green”, a field trip program designed to introduce them to “green” topics such as global warming, sustainable farming, water quality and habitat preservation and to make them more environmentally responsible.
Trips to museums, local theater performances and other cultural venues are arranged when sufficient funding is available in order to provide enrichment and stimulation.
Older students receive assistance in preparing for SAT exams and are taken on college visits. Each year, a growing number of participants enroll in college; all are first generation college attendees.
Several years ago, GCCC established a Scholarship Fund to help deserving students achieve their college dreams. With the assistance of a generous donor who provides a matching gift of $25,000, we provide scholarships of $500-$4,000 to 8-10 deserving students annually to assist with the cost of tuition and/or books.
75 homeless and at-risk students ages 8-20 participate in the GCCC Mentoring Program. Most have shown marked improvement in their grades and an increased ability to deal with the many problems that low-income and homeless children often face
E'shondra was raised by her great grandparents. When they died, she went to live with her mother, a drug addict who started stealing money from her to buy drugs. When she turned 16 years old, E'shondra moved out of the house, became legally emancipated from her mother and eventually moved into her own apartment in the Bronx. Although she held two part-time jobs to pay the $720/month rent for her one bedroom unit, she maintained a straight "A" average, was ranked second in her senior class and received several scholarships and awards upon graduation from high school. E'shondra needed to attend a local college so that she could maintain her apartment as she had no other home to go to for holidays. She was accepted at a number of schools, including Barnard, and chose to attend John Jay because of her interest in the criminal justice system. Her goal has always been to become a lawyer and someday a judge. E’shondra recently graduated from John Jay and has been accepted at NY Law School.
D.J. was a troubled boy who first came to our Summer Camp at the age of seven. He was one of five children from a family who has been homeless on and off for ten years. At the age of 11, when he was in fifth grade, D.J. was one of the first children to enter our Mentoring Program. At that time he seldom went to school and had already repeated one grade due to poor attendance. Since joining the program D.J. has maintained a straight “A” average and a 90% attendance record. D.J. just graduated from college and plans to attend graduate school to get a Master’s degree in education. D.J. also continues to work with GCCC, acting as a mentor for younger children and a counselor at the GCCC Summer Camp.
Tutoring sessions are held at the Elm Street Community Center in Yonkers, the Coachmen Family Shelter in White Plains and at local libraries. Bus fares are provided to mentoring locations as most participants cannot afford bus tickets..
How You Can Help
- You can make a financial donation to help cover the cost of field trips
- You can donate 2-25 tickets to a sporting event, play, art exhibit etc.
- Your group can sponsor an "Evening at the Prom" for a high school senior so that she/he doesn't miss out on this special event. Your donation can help pay for prom tickets, a prom dress/tux rental, flowers and a share of a limo.
- You can make a donation to the GCCC Scholarship Fund. Each year GCCC awards 8-10 scholarships valued at $500-$4,000 to needy students so that they can pursue their dream of attending college. All donations to the scholarship fund up to a maximum of $25,000 are matched by a generous donor so the effect of your donation will be doubled.
- You can volunteer to help a high school student navigate the college application process.
- If you are a trained SAT instructor you can volunteer to assist with SAT tutoring.
- You can organize a snack drive to collect snacks for the after-school program. Each year we need approximately 8,000 snacks and drinks. Popular snacks are individually packaged granola bars, cereal bars, pretzels, filled crackers, dried fruit and packaged cookies.
- You can donate $25 gift cards to Target, Walmart, Kohl’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods for use as Birthday, Christmas and graduation gifts.
Contact the Director
Director: Eileen Torres
Phone: (914) 420-6265