Update on Team Mentoring Schools

Posted by Joel Katz on February 25, 2011

The Grizzlies Foundation’s new TEAM Mentoring pilot program is off to a running start. The program which began in January 2011, successfully finished the fifth sessions this week. Between the two charter schools involved in the program, 15 community volunteers have been matched with 45 students making up 5 total mentoring teams. Each team has begun the process of creating their own identities and are already starting to develop some real chemistry with each other.

Although the unanticipated winter storms caused three snow days forcing some schedule shuffling, the relationships between the students and their mentors have not suffered.  As Eric Jackson, a mentor at Power Center, put it, “the majority of the kids are starting to open up to us. They are looking forward to the future sessions and have expressed excitement in doing activities with us.”

This semester’s big project is a day of community service. Mentors and mentees will have the chance to serve with one of two local agencies:  the Mid-South Food Bank and Clean Memphis.

In preparation for the project, the Grizzlies Foundation invited the CEO’s of both agencies to educate the teams on how they serve the community. The students asked great follow-up questions and seemed sincerely interested in volunteering. The sessions leading up to the April 16 projects will allow the students time to prepare and execute this community service project. While the mentors will be facilitating the sessions, the students will be the ones taking direct ownership of planning for the project.

“Just six weeks into the Grizzlies TEAM Mentoring pilot, and we’re witnessing incredible connections forming between students and mentors,” said Grizzlies Foundation Executive Director Jenny Koltnow. “The students take great pride in their teams and are very engaged in the weekly sessions. It’s exciting to watch what happens when the students take the discussions to heart and really demonstrate a greater respect for others and responsibility for the team’s well-being.”

Other highlights of the semester include a second mentor training in mid-March where Grizzlies Foundation staff will offer additional resources to mentors and provide a sneak-peak of what will take place during future sessions.  This mid-term gathering will also give mentors time to network and discuss their experiences with TEAM Mentoring.

TEAM mentors and students will also attend the Grizzlies vs. LA Clippers game on April 5th. The Grizzlies Foundation will be providing them with tickets, transportation, and food vouchers, as well as in-game recognition, for a night of fun at FedExForum.

With this first pilot semester not even halfway complete, the feedback from both the mentors and students has been encouraging. It should be exciting to see their teams continue to bond and relationships strengthen.

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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.