By: Terri Munson Issue: Big Ideas, Smart People Section: Community
When Javier Alvarado was in middle school in Brooklyn, New York, his good friend was stabbed in a neighborhood riot. That was the day Javi decided there had to be a better way to live, so he concentrated on his education as his ticket out of poverty. He sought advice from adults and credits his mentors for helping him strive—not just survive. Today Javi’s impressive credentials include a doctorate in electrical engineering from Cornell University.
In January of her senior year in high school in the Dominican Republic, Albedith Diaz decided that she needed to go to college in the United States to reach her potential. Despite application deadlines looming and despite the fact that she didn’t speak English, Albe was accepted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, conditional on her learning English before the semester began. She was a freshman at WPI that September. Albe believes that, "When you want, you can do anything."
As a senior at Bowie High School in 1967 in a poor section of El Paso, Texas, Armando Alcantar assumed his good grades meant that he would be offered scholarships to college. He didn’t realize he had to apply because no one told him. Much later, as a Vietnam vet, Armando went to the University of Texas on the GI Bill.
These three remarkable people from Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico all became citizens of the United States, earned college degrees, and are engineers at Raytheon Company in Andover, Massachusetts. They are also mentors in Stand & Deliver. They are each matched with a student from the Lawrence public schools and meet with them at Raytheon once a week to work on mathematics, college prep, and life. Growing up in difficult circumstances themselves, they can relate to teenagers facing similar challenges. They have become wonderful role models for their mentees who have developed goals and strategies for success under their influence. Javi, Albe, and Armando are three of more than a hundred Raytheon mentors.
Stand & Deliver Mentoring Program
One afternoon a week throughout the school year, more than one hundred students from the 8th through 12th grade at Lawrence public schools are bussed to Raytheon Company to meet one-on-one with their mentors. The students academic levels range from the lowest to the highest levels so their mentors’ help ranges from remediation to enrichment. The only requirement for the students is that they want to improve their academics. Once they join the program, they can continue as long as they want until they graduate from Lawrence High. Many students have been in the program for four, five, and six years.
Lawrence is a town of 70,000 people located within a 10 minute drive of two Raytheon facilities. The student population has a high poverty rate and a high dropout rate. Most, like Javi, Albe, and Armando, learned English as their second language. Many of their parents and guardians struggle with day-to-day basic needs and often do not have the time or the experience to guide their children—especially when it comes to mathematics, which is Raytheon employees’ forte.
History of Stand & Deliver
The Stand & Deliver academic mentoring program was founded in 2001 by Ed Warnshuis, a retiree with a huge heart and the energy to match. Ed heard about the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests that were soon to become state requirements for high school diplomas. Predictions were dire for students in Lawrence to pass the test which motivated Ed to act. He founded Stand & Deliver and matched Lawrence 8th graders with people from the community. Each mentor and mentee pair arranged to meet each week at a place and time convenient to both. In 2004, Ed needed more volunteers and came knocking on Raytheon’s door—which turned out to be fortuitous for Stand & Deliver, Raytheon, and a lot of young people.
That first year of Raytheon’s involvement, the 15 matches were whittled down to six by the end of the school year because of student "no shows." Yet, one Raytheon volunteer was struck by how dramatically mentoring can impact children. She was matched with an 8th grader named Jaime and was warned, "He probably won’t graduate." She and Jaime met at the public library each week and within a short time, she noticed something new about Jaime—he had a bounce in his step and a ready smile. Jaime’s grades rose from all D’s and F’s to all A’s and B’s not because of the homework they did together but because of Jaime’s new found motivation and confidence. Based on these results, she decided that the program needed to continue and grow.
Raytheon Company uses their own brand of Six Sigma to solve problems, and this proven process was used to address the program’s attrition problem. The outcome was Corporate Campus. The paradigm shifted from matches meeting individually in various sites around Lawrence to meeting in groups at the mentors’ companies. This made it doable for the mentors to conveniently walk to the company cafeteria to meet with their mentees. Meeting at the company site proved to be even more beneficial to the mentees by exposing them to corporate America, opening their eyes to possibilities they had never considered.
Kristine Matson College Bound Program
A pilot program was launched for the 2005-2006 school year with fourteen students, which grew by word of mouth to forty-five students the following year. The main focus was preparing for the MCAS math test. Raytheon mentor, Kristine Matson, recommended that the program expand to help higher level students with AP calculus. Although the current students were 8th and 9th graders, the idea would jump-start the process to help the older students who had already passed the MCAS test. Sadly, Matson was diagnosed with cancer and died after a courageous battle, but the idea of adding AP calculus students was not forgotten. Anne Chay, Matson’s friend and a calculus teacher at Lawrence High, called the Raytheon Stand & Deliver coordinator asking to create the Kristine Matson College Bound Program—to honor Matson and keep her memory alive. Within a few weeks 28 calculus students arrived at Raytheon. Now, each year, the Kristine Matson Unsung Hero Award is awarded to a student who best exemplifies her vision. To explain the impact of having a private tutor, Chay explains that one of her students who was not grasping a new math concept in class said, "Don’t worry Miss. My mentor will explain it to me." Another of her students, Joshua Maldonado, wrote this about his experience, "Stand & Deliver is more dynamic than just a mentoring program; it can change lives. Stand & Deliver saved my educational career. During my junior year of high school, I was taking an early morning course at UMASS Lowell which got me to Lawrence High too late for most of my AP calculus course. Guidance was ready to kick me out of the class, but Ms. Chay and I were able to convince them that my mentor would teach me. I learned more quickly and efficiently than I had before and earned a five on the AP calculus test. I realized the value of one-on-one mentoring and the chance to have all of the attention."
Navigating the College Application
Many of the older mentees began asking their mentors for specific information on the college application process. Janet Dellea from Raytheon Finance offered her expertise and thus the spin off program, Navigating the College Application, began. In addition to regular mentoring sessions, high school seniors come together to complete on-line college applications under the guidance of volunteers with recent college application experience. A private college fair is run for them at Raytheon with admissions officers from a dozen schools. Of the thirty-three seniors in the program last year, twenty-six went on to four-year colleges including MIT, Brown, Tufts, and Holy Cross—most with scholarships. Several students have expressed the wish to, "bring my mentor to college with me."
Opportunities for mentees
Raytheon’s close association with these students makes it possible to take advantage of opportunities that arise including touring college campuses, going on field trips to science fairs and the Museum of Science, attending the Massachusetts Conference for Women and IEEE Conference and, for a lucky few, singing the National Anthem at Fenway Park (www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0zEFvweZ7Q). Mentees in the program are encouraged to do community service work. For example, six Stand & Deliver high school girls joined The Science Club for Girls Junior Mentor program to work with 4th and 5th grade girls.
The focus of Stand & Deliver is mathematics, but students need to do well on standardized tests in English, as well. The Bookmobile helps fill the gap. Raytheon employees donate gently used, popular teen books for the kids to take and keep—no strings attached. Every December, Raytheon organizations and employees donate funds so that each mentee can request a book of their choice. Judging from the reactions, including one student hugging her new book, the goal of getting them hooked on reading is working.
MathMovesU and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Initiatives
Raytheon Company is working diligently to promote STEM to show kids how much fun math can be and to encourage them to pursue STEM careers. Six years ago, Raytheon launched MathMovesU (www.mathmovesu.com), an interactive website for middle school students designed to make math exciting. Raytheon also sponsors a ride at Walt Disney World called the Sum of All Thrills where students use math concepts to design their ride and enjoy a different experience each time they ride. Raytheon also helps sponsor MATHCOUNTS, FIRST Robotics teams and many STEM related programs such as Stand & Deliver.
Go Fly A Kite
An annual MathMovesU event that is often the highlight of the year for the Stand & Deliver 8th grade students is Go Fly A Kite. Mentors and mentees run around a field on the first nice Thursday in April and fly kites. This is a great way for the kids to learn the Pythagorean Theorem. The mentors pace off the distance from where their mentees stand holding their kites to the point beneath the flying kite to get one known component of the equation. The other known component is the hypotenuse (length of the string). Using a2 + b2 = c2, they can figure out the unknown—the distance from the ground to the high flying kite. Seeing the tiny dot of a kite in the sky and using math to figure out that it was 1,472 feet in the air was "like magic" according to one mentee.
Pipeline for Engineers in Raytheon
Although Raytheon would be pleased if all the Stand & Deliver students became engineers, an interest in engineering isn’t required or even asked when students join the program. Approximately 30 percent of the program’s students are not U.S. citizens, a requirement to work in the defense industry, but many of the Stand & Deliver students aspire to careers in education, health, law enforcement, and business. The goal is to help the students reach their goals, and with the influence of mentors who are engineers, many students are becoming more interested in engineering. To date, seven Stand & Deliver graduates have completed successful summer internships at Raytheon and are well on their way to becoming engineers at Raytheon upon their college graduation.
Mass Mentoring Partnership and Family Service, Inc.
Massachusetts mentoring programs, including Stand & Deliver, benefit from the support of the Mass Mentoring Partnership, which provides mentor training and best practices sharing at Raytheon—an important factor in the program’s success. Furthermore, Mass Mentoring sponsors Mentoring Night at Fenway Park each year where over 700 matches from around the state attend a Red Sox game for free. Stand & Deliver invites matches to the game based on the mentee’s perfect attendance throughout the year. Mass Mentoring was also instrumental in the smooth transition to Family Service, Inc. Because of recent budget cuts in the Lawrence Public School District, Stand & Deliver was forced to find another source of support. Family Service, Inc. graciously took on the Corporate Campus program, adding it to the five other mentoring programs they already run. David Shapiro, CEO of Mass Mentoring believes, "Raytheon has served as a catalyst and an inspiring example that we can use to get other corporations involved in mentoring."
Is Corporate Campus Mentoring a Good Fit For Your Company?
Corporate Campus academic mentoring can be replicated by companies all across the country with great benefits to mentees and mentors, schools, corporations, the economy, and society at large. Most companies have empty cafeterias in the afternoon which is the ideal setting for mentoring sessions. After enjoying a snack and catching up with one another, students and mentors hit the books. Volunteering for an hour or two out of a forty to sixty hour work week re-energizes employees. Surveys show that employees who volunteer for Corporate Campus have higher job satisfaction and increased communication and leadership skills. And, while most mentoring programs have a wait list of children looking for mentors, this is one of the few mentoring programs that consistently has a wait list of mentors. For a small investment of time, mentors are helping to change the future for these young people and for us all.
At the first-ever National Mentoring Summit on January 25, 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama lauded the commitment of more than 17 U.S. corporations to expand or create mentoring programs that increase graduation rates among America’s youth and position them for success. Raytheon Company was among those 17 corporations that accepted "The Corporate Mentoring Challenge."
There are mentoring support agencies like Mass Mentoring Partnership throughout the country that can help determine which mentoring programs and opportunities are best suited to your company. By accepting this challenge, you can join with other corporations that are investing employee time and money to improve outcomes for youth. To find your local mentoring partnership or to learn more about The Corporate Mentoring Challenge, contact MENTOR at www.mentoring.org.