As a grant recipient of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County provides a solution for low-income students to break the cycle of poverty through education. Students enter the program in grades 6 – 9 and sign a pledge of commitment to keep their grades up, remain crime and drug free, and focus on attaining a high school diploma and becoming college-ready. Our innovative multi-year program model provides wrap around services to students throughout their middle and high school years and continues through college completion. The program includes mentors, college readiness, educational workshops, college and career guidance, college scholarships, and college retention services.
Students who have the odds stacked against them are paired with a volunteer mentor who meets with them each weekly. Mentors provide a sympathetic ear, a word of encouragement, and guide their mentees toward a successful future. The impact of mentors is boundless and serves as a powerful strategy to help rebuild the dreams of students in at-risk situations. Stephenie, a mentee, recently wrote her mentor, “Words can’t express how grateful I am to have such an amazing person like you in my life. Thank you for changing my life. You have truly planted a seed in my heart and nourished it helping me to allow to grow. It amazes me every day to see how much I’ve grown from being the little insecure shy girl, to a confident beautiful young lady. I will never stop thanking you. You inspire me to be confident in myself and believe I can do it. Even though we live differently, nothing can come between the bond that we share.”
We affirm the value of mentoring students along with wrap around services as evidenced by our 98% high school graduation rate. Although our students out-perform their peers, we know that in Palm Beach County less than 5% of low-income college students will complete their degree. We also recognize the “drop off” in follow-up support services once organizations like ours have gotten students through high school and into college.
Thanks to the support of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, we have expanded our services to include college retention. It is apparent that relationships built with students beginning in middle and high school should extend through college to better support them through their post-secondary journey. Our college retention coaches build on established relationships and provide one on one support to students as they attempt to navigate the college system. They mentor students through financial aid and many other college related issues. Monthly texts are sent to college students reminding them of upcoming deadlines and offering them motivational support. However, most importantly our scholars know they are a part of our Take Stock in Children “family” and that we support their efforts as they pursue a better life for themselves.