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The mission of the SouthCoast Mentoring Initiative for Learning, Education and Service (SMILES) is to help at-risk youth realize their personal and educational potential through a large scale one-to-one mentoring program.
SMILES began in 2003 as a partnership involving leaders from the business, faith, and education communities in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The program was developed in response to the area’s longstanding high and chronic dropout rate, which has contributed to poor workforce education demographics and inhibited economic development. The establishment of SMILES is a direct response to research that identified mentoring as the most effective strategy to keep at-risk students in school through graduation. The SMILES Mentoring Program helps to empower youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their potential. The mentoring program recruits adult volunteers who will commit to supporting, guiding, and being a friend to a young person for a period of at least one school year, one hour per week. SMILES Mentors are an asset to the community. As a group they serve to be part of the solution to attaining a better educated, responsible and community minded society.