Mentor program prepares high school grads for college

mentorship program for first generation college students
mentorship program for first generation college students(general)
Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 1:40 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - An ArkLaTex organization, YouToo, Inc. is working to inspire first-generation college students by pairing them with a mentor.

Kesha Simmons, the Executive Director of YouToo, Inc, says Louisiana has among the nation’s lowest college retention rates.

“First-generation college students are at a higher rate of dropping out than their counterparts, so that’s how they became our target group”, Simmons said.

YouToo, Inc serves as a support group for first-generation college students and students with disabilities.

Simmons says the ‘Shreveport Goes to College’ program pairs more than 70 first-generation college students with a mentor. During this month, as students go off to college YouToo, Inc provides each student with a trunk full of dorm room supplies, which includes disinfecting wipes, mattress pads and face masks.

“We offer tutoring for the first two years of college which is to get them past that threshold of dropping out, Simmons said. “We learned that having the right school supplies helps our K-12 students, it also helps our college students as well”

The ‘Shreveport Goes to College’ program requires three things: students must graduate from Caddo Parish Schools, must attend a college within the state of Louisiana and must be a first-generation college student.

“Our efforts is to help the college retention rate here at home and also some of the economic development initiatives here at home so we do want talent who is going to stay in the state of Louisiana”

YouToo, Inc. started last year with providing mentors for more than 60 students and due to the pandemic, the numbers have slightly declined.

Simmons says the pandemic has presented many challenges for the organization in terms of how they interact and provide guidance to their students.

“So that (COVID-19) did impact the numbers some, but there were also great benefits because it also allowed us to interact more with them than we did last year and it impacted our numbers”

For more information on how you can help or become a mentor, go to their website, YouToo, Inc and its Facebook page.

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