By Zane Razzaq
Daily News staff
MARLBOROUGH – A mentoring program that helps struggling high school students reach graduation day is seeking adults to serve as mentors, as it expands to include Marlborough students this year.
The John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation pairs high school sophomores who may lack parental guidance, financial resources, or emotional support at home with adult volunteer mentors who can help them thrive. First established at Framingham High School in 1998, a second program was started in 2010 at Waltham High School. Program Manager Sean Cooney said the Marlborough addition will be its third expansion.
Mentors must be at least 21 years old, a high school graduate, and able to commit to meeting with their mentee for an average of eight hours per month.
“But more importantly, they need some sort of passion to give back to the youth of Marlborough,” said Cooney.
Those interested in mentoring can contact Cooney at email@example.com or at 508-868-0570. Mentors will undergo a training program before they are matched one-on-one with a Marlborough High student in either November or March.
Matches spend an average of at least eight hours with each other throughout the school year, getting coffee, attending sport games, and other activities. Purposefully, each mentor is assigned just one mentee.
“That’s the most powerful mentoring you can get,” said Cooney.
A unique feature of the program, said Cooney, is that students commit to three goals: one community service, one academic, and one personal. Goals can range from improving their grades to applying for internships. Students then document the milestones they reach along the way, with Cooney checking in on their progress monthly.
Participants are also required to develop a post-graduation plan as well, such as attending college, joining the military, or seeking vocational training.
The program relies on referrals from school officials to identify high school students who might benefit from extra guidance. The vast majority of those who receive assistance are students who are low-income, minority, or first-generation.
According to its site, the program boasts a graduation rate of 96%, with nearly 90% of mentees advancing to higher education.
“While those stats sound pretty nice, it’s the individual stories that are really touching,” said Cooney, saying mentors often develop strong relationships with their mentees.
The program was acquired in 2017 by a local chapter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters. Under the partnership, the Mazie Foundation exists as a distinct nonprofit, but Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/Metrowest (BBSCM) assumes overall responsibility for the group.