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The Montana Mentoring Inititaive builds resilience in at risk students in grades 1 - 6 by providing them with 1 on 1 support from a student mentor in grades 7 - 12 in a structured, safe setting. The program also cultivates the unique strengths of student mentor by providing them with intensive initial training and ongoing guidance and support.
The Montana Mentoring Initiative (MMI) is a grassroots service learning program based out of Libby K-12 School District #4 that empowers students to overcome life's challenges. Students in grades 7-12 mentor students in grade 1-6. Mentees (grades 1-6) improve academically, emotionally, socially, and behaviorally. Mentors (grades 7-12) benefit by increasing their confidence, receiving peer support, making a difference, and gaining valuable life skills and experiences. In addition to the after school mentoring interactions, monthly special events and trips further enrich the experience.
Our program currently serves approximately 65 students. We have received state and national recognition for our efforts and our program's high school student officers have had the opportunity to present our program at the 2006 National Youth Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, PA and they recently returned from a State Farm service learning conference in Washington D.C. in which they were selected to represent the entire state of Montana.
Students in each of our small, rural, remote Northwestern Montana communities face common problems. Due to extensive generational poverty, among other challenges, many elementary students struggle with academic, behavioral, social, and emotional problems. By the time that they reach middle and high school, some youth engage in delinquent behaviors, experiment with drugs, drop out of school, or become pregnant.
For example, Thompson Falls Elementary School Principal observes that, "almost 20% of our parents either are incarcerated or have been. 25% of our high school population is from group therapy/treatment homes. We have a very high rate of single parents/grandparents raising kids; in grade 6, 4/5 of the kids are either being raised by a grandparent, a single parent, or in a divorced home. This past school year, 64% of students attending Thompson Falls Elementary School qualified for free or reduced lunch."
The rural, remote communities of Libby and Troy face similar problems. The 2006 Montana Kids Count Data Book, rated Lincoln County (the county that includes both Libby) as having the fifth highest poverty rate of all counties in the state of Montana. According to this same book, Lincoln County was rated as having the second highest problem with youth risk behavior out of all counties in the state of Montana.
- Dave Lynch
- (406) - 293 - 8905 ext. 33
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