Homeport has been awarded a $65,000 grant from the state for a first-year mentorship program meant to boost grades and social skills of academically at risk Ohio children.
As many as 30 fifth through eighth grade students at Homeport’s Emerald Glen apartment community are expected to benefit this school year from the state Department of Education “Community Connectors” grant.
Homeport chose Emerald Glen based on its sizeable base of immigrant children of Somali and Latino families. The Emerald Glen children previously benefitted from Columbus State University's English As A Second Language Afterschool Communities (ESLAsC) program.
The Community Connectors program, matching non-profits with faith-based groups, schools, businesses and others, is designed to increase a child’s abilities to succeed in the classroom and long term in the work world.
“We want our young people to have dreams about a future,” Homeport President/CEO Amy Klaben said. The mentors can be vital in laying a pathway to success, to fill a gap that can exist when parents are busy working or are still learning to be proficient in English, Klaben added.
Homeport’s faith based partners, St. Vincent de Paul and First Church of God, have a pool of volunteers willing to provide one-on-one mentoring to the children of Emerald Glen.
Homeport will be looking for mentors with “lots of enthusiasm,” an ability to break down communication barriers and who enjoy field trips – where socialization skills are often built, said Laverne Price, director of Homeport’s Department of Learning and Engagement.
Education partner South-Western City School District will be counted on to provide records to learn if Emerald Glen students in the Community Connectors program are improving scholastically.
Four employees of Homeport, a leading provider of affordable homes in Central Ohio, have received training on how to implement the program and monitor its success.
“We hope to get the new mentorship program up and running by the end of September,” said Alex Romstedt, assistant director of Homeport’s Department of Learning and Engagement.
Homeport is one of 82 first year recipients of Community Connectors funds totaling $6.8 million. It is already looking ahead to applying for a second year grant beginning next July when the state’s fiscal year begins. If year-round funding is approved, mentoring could benefit children in summer programs at Emerald Glen, Price said.