In support of April being National Financial Literacy Month, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) is recognizing those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to delivering critical connections to our nation’s young people in this way, to aid them in achieving success at home, school and ultimately in the workforce. This blog focuses on College Mentors for Kids founder Heidi Schmidt’s proven commitment to youth mentoring and the powerful impact it has had for young people in real life.
College Mentors for Kids founder Heidi Schmidt has dedicated much of her own life to improving the lives of young people through mentoring. It is through her commitment to America’s young people that Schmidt has been able to connect college students with elementary school children to build strong, lasting relationships, providing opportunities for each to grow and succeed.
An organization that helps improve the lives of young people through education, College Mentors for Kids was founded at Indiana University in 1995 to help tap into student potential on college campuses. Since then, the program has expanded to 32 college campuses across nine states, and currently serves over 2,000 “little buddies,” with 2,300 mentors providing guidance and friendship.
Through weekly after-school activities focused on higher education and career, culture and diversity, and community service, mentors help their “little buddies” understand the importance of education, show them the benefits to cultural understanding, and teach them ways to give back to their communities.
Higher education and career activities help kids understand college, different career opportunities and the training required for each. Financial literacy activities, for example, teach young people the importance of earning, saving and spending money wisely.
A report informed by the first nationally representative survey of young people on the topic of mentoring, The Mentoring Effect, looked deeper into this topic, and found that mentored youth set higher educational goals and are 55 percent more likely to attend college than those without a mentor.
Programming dedicated to subjects like financial literacy set students up for academic and financial
success early on, helping foster vibrant, sustainable communities for the future. This is just one area in which College Mentors focuses with its mentors and mentees.
As the founder of College Mentors, Schmidt has established a lasting legacy. Outcome data shows that 76 percent of youth served in the first decade of the program went on to college, and 66 percent are engaging in community service as adults.
They are following Schmidt’s model. Today, she remains highly active as a Director Emeritus of the Board and as an ambassador for the program. She actively invests her time, passion and resources in the success of the program, working actively with students at multiple chapters and advising graduates.
“Through the experiences I have personally had with mentors in my own life, I realized early-on how transformational such a relationship be. Mentors fill the relationship gaps that may not be met by even those closest to us, and can positively impact one’s success, happiness and life choices. The mentor relationships that occur through the College Mentors for Kids program are a dream come true for me, as they are fundamentally changing the landscape of opportunity for at-risk children around the nation, and breaking the cycle of poverty in a sustainable and meaningful way,” Schmidt said.
“I’m incessantly amazed and inspired by what our volunteer student mentors and leaders, child buddies and the national staff are accomplishing every day through opening their arms to each other, and making the world better and brighter for all of us!”
Today, more than 10,000 alumni of College Mentors show the power of mentoring and the lasting impact committed adults can have on young people in real life.
9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.