According to Youth Equipped to Succeed (YES) Director of Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Rayshannette Trotter,
“As we see in daily headlines, there has been a dramatic increase in mental illness, anxiety, depression, and suicide among youth. Students today are facing significant cultural pressures and a barrage of negative messages that generations before them have never experienced. In addition, they are navigating extreme levels of isolation and loneliness brought on by Covid-19. We don’t even yet know the true ramifications this pandemic will have on an entire generation.
“At the core of Youth Equipped to Succeed (YES) is connection. We believe, ‘A connected student is a protected student. ’ Through positive youth development programs, YES equips K-12th grade students across all socioeconomic groups with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to achieve more healthy and successful futures.
“Our deepest impact is through the YES Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program; a unique in-school mentoring model unlike any other. It’s student-led, meaning high school upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) mentor at-risk freshmen. Our mentor coordinators serve as adult trainers to help facilitate the 26-lesson Peer Connection curriculum, which provides learning opportunities that are highly engaging and vital to students’ social and emotional development needs. Added experiences are integrated into the program such as corporate career days, mentor retreat at Sky Ranch, community service projects, and a program graduation celebration.
“In partnership with The Search Institute, our student mentors and mentees participate in a pre and post-test to see how effectively the program is connecting students to more healthy and successful futures. Last school year, students reported in the pre-test as being ‘vulnerable’ and having a lack of support to make positive and healthy choices in their life. In the post-survey results, students moved closer to a status of ‘thriving’, having the support they need to make positive and healthy choices. Other significant positive outcomes included improved constructive use of time, social competencies, and positive identity. Students also had measurable growth in their sense of purpose, positive view of their personal future, planning and decision making, and peaceful conflict resolution.
“Nestor, a current student mentor in the program says, ‘The pandemic made me reassess what I want to see happen in my life. I will be the first in my family to be a high school graduate. Growing up, I’ve never really had someone to help guide me. That’s always been my scenario; learn through hardship. The YES Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program has made a huge impact on my life. When you have a chance to meet someone that you know you can count on, it means everything to you. I have the chance to help my younger peers who may be going through something like I did when I was a freshman. I’m providing them mentorship that I wish I had.’
“Investing in today’s young generation is one of the most important things we can do for the future of our community. Your Giving Day donation to YES ensures its mission can continue to drive catalytic change in the lives of students through programs like Peer-to-Peer Mentoring.”
* Photo credit: Lori Wilson Photography ** Graphic/photo provided by YES
Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day helps build awareness and support for nonprofits like nothing else. In 2021, $66 million was raised through 103,000 donors benefiting over 3,300 local nonprofits, bringing the 13-year total to over $441 million for our community. NTx Giving Day is the largest community-wide giving event in the nation.