Salem State University Foundation, Inc. has received a $25,000 grant from The Boston Foundation for its Salem’s Next Leaders Mentoring Program, which matches Salem State University students with Salem High School students in a structured mentoring program.
The grant will help fund the program, which was launched two years ago by Professors Joanna Gonsalves, of the psychology department, and Eric Metchik, of the criminal justice department, and it will allow the program to run longer during the school year.
The program pairs high-achieving Salem State students with Salem High School sophomores to increase high school success as well as their access to, and achievement in, college. A total of 30 students participate, including 15 Salem State students and 15 Salem High students.
“The age difference between the mentors and mentees is only five to seven years. This enables more successful relationships because there is more opportunity for bonding and the high school students can look up to the college students,” Gonsalves said.
The program takes place every Monday when the high schoolers are brought to the Salem State campus to participate in a three-hour session. For the first half of the session, all students participate in a group activity such as a visit to Salem State’s Cat Cove aquaculture center, the Glassworks Studio, and the Collins Observatory. The second half of the session is dedicated to one-on-one mentoring with each high school student paired with his/her respective mentor.
“This support from the Boston Foundation, in addition to the continued staff and programming support we receive from Salem State, will be crucial to the continued success of a program that puts students on the path to college early on,” Metchik said.
The Salem State students, who are drawn from all majors, take a class taught by Gonsalves and Metchik to learn how to be a mentor. After successfully completing a semester of mentoring, the high school students have the opportunity to take one college class per semester for credit at no cost while taking advantage of all of the student services offered to enrolled Salem State students, thanks to the Commonwealth’s Dual Enrollment program. This allows students to discover new interests while earning credit for future college careers.
“Our students are experiencing college life by developing relationships with their college-age mentors, participating in activities on campus and being enrolled in Salem State University classes. Students have commented on how this program has opened their eyes and gotten them excited about attending college. We are grateful for SSU and the Boston Foundation for their support and partnerships,” Salem High School Principal David Angeramo said, adding that the high school is going through a redesign process focused on increasing college and career readiness for all students and this mentoring program is directly in line with their efforts.
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2016, the Foundation and its donors made $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $107 million.
“Mentorship has proven to be a powerful tool for students on the path toward and through higher education,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “We are pleased to be able to support the continuing efforts of the Salem’s Next Leaders Mentoring Program through our Open Door Grants program.”