Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Circle Urban Ministries

Yesterday, Chris Warren and I visited Dan Hogan and his mentoring program at Circle Urban Ministries in the Austin Neighborhood. Dan has been a great supporter of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the Tutor/Mentor Conference, and hosted a very popular workshop on using free technology to build your program's website. He also runs a fantastic mentoring program.

Circle Urban Ministries has served the Austin Community since the early 1970s in a variety of capacity. House in the complex on N. Central Ave., Circle Urban Ministries is the home of CATALYST Charter School, an After-School Program for kindergarten-8th graders, mostly students at Catalyst Charter School, the Circle Christian Development Corporation, which spearheads community revitalization projects, a Food Pantry and Depository, Rock Church, a Community Health Center, a Legal Aid Center, and of course the mentoring program. This all-encompassing commitment to the community in all aspects of helping a person is exactly what the Tutor/Mentor Connection would like to see replicated in high-poverty neighborhoods such as Austin.

The Mentoring Program started in 2001 and most of the students are 4th-8th graders at CATALYST Charter School. Students meet once a week at Circle Urban Ministries with their mentor and then four hours a week during school vacations. The site benefits from an extensive number of rooms where mentors and their students can interact with one another without anyone bothering them. When we were there we saw one pair playing Wii Boxing, another baking cookies in the kitchen, and another playing hang man in the boardroom. While the mentoring program emphasizes the mentoring relationship rather than a tutoring/academic relationship, the student and their mentor are encouraged to set one academic goal for the year and to work on that goal throughout the year with their mentor.

Circle Urban Ministries Mentoring Program also has benefited with networking with the Churches in Austin and Oak Park. Many of the mentors are members of these churches and even some parents of some of the mentees have donated their own time to help other students in the program succeed. What's great is that both CATALYST school is growing (as shown by the top picture, which was taken in the new library being constructed) and so is Circle Urban. Hopefully they are able to find more mentors for the many students who need their guidance and that Circle Urban can expand its services and help even more people in the Austin Community and beyond.

Thanks so much to Dan Hogan for a great tour of the facilities and for all his help with the conferences!

1 comment:

Carol said...

Great that conference hosted a very popular workshop on using free technology to build your program's website!!!!!

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