The Santa Cruz Education Foundation, partnering with staff leadership teams at Mission Hill and Branciforte Middle Schools, focused on an urgent need for at-risk students to launch a pilot program for the 2005-2006 school year called the Successful Academic Mentoring Program (SAMP). After a successful first year, SAMP has become a valuable resource that is producing tangible results: grades are up and so are test scores.

Why is SAMP working so well? Mentoring. Through the help provided by a mentor, SAMP targets students who are in serious need of a consistent and caring adult who understands their personal struggles and can encourage, motivate and support them. SAMP provides a mentor who is a member of the community, and is uniquely qualified and committed to work with at-risk students.

The mentor assists the students in weekly meetings, encouraging dialog about specific struggles they are experiencing, and then creates solutions tailored to that student’s issues. Through the aid of the mentor (a role that is neither teacher nor counselor), students are able to be specific with their struggles—academic or otherwise. Rewards and incentives follow, based on individual needs and interests.

sampchart.jpgWorking closely with counselors, administrators, and teachers, the mentor monitors individual success through detailed metrics that track grades and homework assignments, attendance and individual progress. Students are showing clear improvements in attendance and academic progress. The pilot program has proven to be an effective intervention tool and the outcomes are encouraging.

Unfortunately, there are more students who need SAMP than there are resources available. Currently, the Santa Cruz Education Foundation continues to fully fund SAMP. But to continue the program, the Foundation needs help.

Without SAMP, at risk students will fall through the cracks and may never regain their path to success. With SAMP, students have hope and support in a way they may never have experienced before. To learn more and support SAMP, visit the Santa Cruz Education Foundation’s homepage.