The collaboration, approved March 12 by the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees, invites the La Mesa-based nonprofit to establish new group circles at various middle and high schools within the district and provide its mentoring services to male students over the next five years. The partnership will build on the success of existing mentoring chapters established on Lincoln High School, Knox Middle School and Millennial Tech Middle School campuses.
Boys to Men Mentoring chapters are safe, sacred spaces where boys confront their fears and disappointments in a circle of positive, real-world adult male role models and their peers. Weekly meetings take place during school hours, in group circles, where boys are offered tools to help build their self-esteem, self-awareness, and a sense of accomplishment.
In time, young lives are turned around. According to case studies carried out by Boys to Men, the program leads to improvements in grade point average; reduces participants' discipline occurrences, suspensions, and expulsions; reduces incidences of bullying and sexual harassment; and links young male students to a community school-based group-mentoring program that includes group activities and other opportunities beyond the school campus. Case study available for review at: http://boystomen.org/case-study/.
Middle and high school administrators are eyeing the transformation. A waiting list of 30 schools serves as a barometer of interest in the program, the number of deserving boys within its reach, and its track record of effectiveness.
The first step toward establishing a mentoring chapter on a school campus is simple: The drafting of a legal agreement between Boys to Men and school administrators, outlining the terms and conditions of their partnership. The second step is more complicated, requiring Boys to Men to raise the funds to operate and staff new mentoring chapters.
Chief Development Officer Joe Sigurdson is up to the challenge. The Boys to Men Mentoring Network co-founder and regional spokesperson views the organization's Adopt-a-School program as the key to realizing the full potential of the nonprofit's partnership with San Diego County's largest school district.
“It costs $20,000 to establish and operate a mentoring chapter, for 25 boys, on a school campus for one year,” Sigurdson explained. “That amounts to an $845 investment in the life of one boy who is willing to put in the hard work required to become the good man he wants to be.
“People spend roughly $150 a month for a mobile phone," he continued. “By comparison, a $70 monthly contribution to our Adopt-a-School program offers individuals, businesses and foundations a meaningful, long-term return on investment in the young men of our community.”
The Adopt-a-School program is two-tiered: A $20,000 contribution sponsors a group-mentoring chapter, on a new campus, for the duration of one school year. An $845 donation affords one deserving boy a school year of empowering group-mentoring experiences. The program offers donors points of recognition designed to align their gift of philanthropy with the boys and mentors who together will embark on a life-changing journey.
Opening the San Diego Unified School District's 46 middle and high school campuses to Boys to Men will bring the organization one giant step closer to its ultimate goal: Making consistent, group-mentoring circles available to every teenage boy in San Diego County.
“We are grateful for this incredible opportunity,” Sigurdson said. “The school district's board of trustees have placed their trust in us. They understand what we've always believed: No boy ever dreams of joining a gang, getting hooked on drugs or going to prison. Behind the tough guy, ‘I don’t care’ facade, is a good boy who just needs a man to care about him.”
Sigurdson views the partnership as a powerful catalyst for community engagement.
“We look forward to joining forces with San Diegans who are fighting for a stronger community. An investment in Boys to Men Mentoring Network is an investment in our future. Together, we can give every boy coming of age in San Diego the emotional literacy, life skills and self-confidence to become the good men of tomorrow.”
To learn more about Boys to Men Mentoring Network's Adopt-a School program and how to become involved, please contact Sigurdson directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Molly Bowman-Styles is a public affairs professional and founder of Windandsea Communications in La Jolla.