- What We Do
- Why We Partner
- News & Stories
- Resource Room
- How You Can Help
Helping young people to fulfill their potential
All youth need guidance and support from caring adults, particularly those with risk factors affecting their future success. These factors include poor school attendance, low grades, negative behavior and difficult circumstances, such as foster or kinship care, an incarcerated family member, or growing up in gang-impacted neighborhoods.
Flintridge Center and mentoring agencies in Pasadena and Altadena are helping to turn around the lives of troubled youth through programs that match them with volunteer adult mentors. The mentors serve as positive role models. They build confidence and help young people see themselves in a more self-affirming light so that they are motivated and focused on their education. A dependable, trusting relationship with a mentor helps at-risk youth stay on track to graduate high school and go on to lead productive lives.
Flintridge’s innovative program recruits volunteers from the Pasadena Police, Fire and city agency departments as mentors. Flintridge launched the program at Washington Middle School in the spring of 2010 to serve youth identified as severely high-risk and high-need. These are children with grade point averages below 2.0, high truancy and absentee rates and/or living within a four block radius of gang activity or having a gang-involved family member or friend. But we call them youth of promise, because when we care for and invest in them, they are full of promise.
The mentors connect weekly with the youngsters, either one-on-one or in small groups, for a minimum of five hours per month. While the initial commitment is for one calendar year, once matched, the mentors and mentees are encouraged to remain in the relationship through high school graduation.
The mentor’s role is to help the youth navigate challenges and build competence in areas that are indicators for success in school and life—work and study skills, social relationships, communications and healthy behaviors. Bilingual interns from California State University Northridge monitor progress and work with the mentees’ parents and caregivers to foster support for the mentoring process and facilitate communication about family issues.
Mentors often take their mentees to events such as National Night Out to develop a sense of community connectedness. In addition, group events are held to bring mentors and mentees together. These have included a holiday gathering and a bike ride at the Rose Bowl where the mentees were given bikes and helmets since none of the youngsters owned these.
After just one year, 100% of the first group of mentees improved in at least one area—behavior, grades, relationships and school dress code. In addition, Flintridge’s program has helped to increase trust and respect between the community and public safety officials. The students have forged strong relationships with the police and firefighter mentors who are seen as inspirational role models. At the same time, the mentors have gained deeper insight into the lives and pressures experienced by youth in low-income communities of color.
Flintridge manages a multi-agency partnership that provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities to mentoring-focused community- and faith-based organizations. The partnership seeks to increase the number of mentoring relationships for troubled students in Northwest Pasadena and to promote safe mentoring programs that follow best practices.
The mentoring service agencies include: A Step Ahead, Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lake Avenue Community Foundation, Mentoring and Partnership for Youth Development (MPYD), Teen Futures, YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley and Flintridge’s Youth of Promise Mentoring Program.
Students are typically referred for mentoring by teachers, counselors, administrators and after-school program personnel. Volunteer mentors are recruited with the help of community organizations such as All Saints Church. All mentors must commit to connect with their mentees for at least five hours per month for one year. They undergo a screening process that includes an application, personal interview, program orientation and reference checks. The mentoring agencies match the students and the volunteer mentors, and they monitor and support the mentoring relationships.
The mentoring agencies have different service delivery models and approaches to working with youth, which gives students a choice in selecting a “support culture” that best fits their needs. For example, MPYD’s mission is to help young males, while Lake Avenue’s mentoring program has a faith-based focus.
Flintridge Center coordinates a variety of educational workshops to strengthen the skills of the mentors and mentoring agencies and to increase their knowledge of best practices in mentoring relationships. All mentors involved in a Pasadena Mentoring Partner program must attend Flintridge’s two-hour training, The Basics of Mentoring, prior to being matched with a student. After the initial training, mentors are encouraged to attend additional trainings held throughout the year. The trainings are free for the mentors and open to the community.
Many more young people at Washington Middle School and John Muir High School are in need of a mentor’s guidance and support. If you would like to make a significant contribution to the life of a young person by serving as a mentor, please email Ricky Pickens or call him at (626) 449-0839, ext. 115.
Photos: Brian Biery