Mentorship goes a long way.
According to A Noble Cause, it nurtures human potential.
In fall 2018, Denison University’s Alford Community Leadership and Involvement Center (CLIC) partnered with the Community Partners Program (or known more locally as A Noble Cause). The program connects students at Par Excellence Academy in Newark, Ohio with student mentors from Denison and community resources through one-on-one mentoring, small groups and summer learning experiences.
Par Excellence Academy is a K-6 public charter school in which many of the children are challenged due to the complex nature of chronic poverty or other types of trauma that may affect them while in their home environments. According to The Newark Advocate, 36% of Licking County households are earning less than the amount needed to provide for housing, child care, food, transportation and health. In the case of the Par Excellence Academy, a Title-1 Ohio school, the student body yields one of the highest, if not the highest, homeless/displaced student populations in the state. Student mentors are prepared ahead of time with a required training session educating them on the topics of poverty and trauma for this reason.
So what are the program’s goals for the student mentees? To help them become prepared for 21st-century careers, build character, develop pathways to future and present achievement, build a sense of resiliency and to inspire them to believe in a positive future for themselves.
Denison students have stepped up to serve as mentors with some mentoring more than one child a day. The children are matched with mentors who share similar interests or future career goals. The goal is for them to be influenced by older students who are working towards some of the same dreams.
“I am thankful for the Denison students who have dedicated time to the mentoring program,” says Dawnel Volzke, Executive Director for A Noble Cause. “There is a powerful dynamic happening between the mentors and children. Each time I walk into the school, the children get excited and ask me when their mentors will be visiting. If you knew their personal stories, then you would also know that the attention they receive from their mentors is life-giving.”
Taylor Dennis ‘19 and Ramsey Bristol ‘21 also serve as Community Partner Coordinators for A Noble Cause. They are involved with helping plan and shape the expectations and requirements of the mentoring model. They provide student mentors with transportation from Denison to Par Excellence throughout the week, as well as all other necessities needed to ensure a successful outcome for the mentor/mentee relationship. Additionally, they work to advance the reach of A Noble Cause, create marketing/branding strategies and campaigns to increase the visibility of the organization, and establish community partnerships to name a few.
“My time spent working with A Noble Cause has been a tremendous opportunity, to say the least. It’s one of those experiences that stick with you for a lifetime and influence not only the way you see the world but how your actions as a community servant can have a profound influence for the better,” said Bristol ‘21, an international studies major from Toledo, Ohio. “I feel honored to help carry out Denison’s recently strengthened mission to form stronger and longer lasting relationships between the University and neighboring communities. The question of how both of these communities can grow together has always been an interest of mine. Our three-person team may seem small, but the amount of work invested into supporting the students and families of the Par Excellence Academy and the tremendously high rate of success in our programming, branding, marketing and student outcomes was no small feat.”
With the coming Spring, the expansion of A Noble Cause will be implemented to serve more students and families in Licking County and Central Ohio.
“I’m very excited for an increased roster of community partners,” said Bristol. “More Denison students serving as mentors [will follow from the expansion] and one of our sizeable grants [will be used] to erect a community garden from the ground up, as well as many more amazing opportunities for residents of Licking County and Denisonians to convene, work together and learn from one another.”Denison mentors volunteer on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in two available sessions that run from 3-4:30 and 4:30-6:00.
You can get a glimpse of the program in action on social media @supportanoblecause or go to anoblecause.org.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, please email [email protected] for more information.