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How You Can be There for a Young Parent in College

Guest post by Devon Haynes of Generation Hope May 2020

Generation Hope Scholars are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and persisting against the odds. They are all young parents in college, and every day they are balancing a combination of going to school, parenting, and dealing with the range of systemic and logistical challenges that come with being a low-income parent of color. They are also working, primarily in the retail and service industries, and some are even caring for their own parents. 

Nationally, the outlook is bleak: fewer than 2% of women who have a baby by age 18 go on to earn their degree before age 30. COVID-19 has thrown up yet another roadblock for Generation Hope Scholars, but with wraparound support that includes financial aid, academic tutoring, caring mentors, mental health care, career readiness support, and case management, we can ensure the pandemic doesn’t derail their dreams. 

If you’re looking for ways to build community and make a lasting impact, consider joining Generation Hope as a Mentor for a Scholar. 

Generation Hope is currently seeking caring adult mentors who will support a young parent as they work toward their dream of graduating college. Our mentors are people from all walks of life who are passionate about supporting teen parents in college and believe that education can be transformative for two generations–our Scholars and their children. 

Each Mentor builds a strong bond with their Scholar, meeting up once a month to do a fun activity or to just catch up. Generation Hope’s program fosters meaningful, long-term connections since Mentors support their Scholars through their entire college journey. Mentors are a consistent person Scholars can turn to for encouragement or a listening ear.  

“My mentor Lisa and I have grown very close in the past 5 years. As Lisa says, I am the tightrope walker, and she is my safety net. She has been one of my biggest supporters throughout school, always celebrating times in which I have gotten a 4.0 in the semester, made the Dean’s List, or when I have received scholarships. She has also been there for me during the difficult times. Lisa is always there to listen to me. Lisa always believed I was going to get through it no matter what and reminded me of how close I was getting to my goal. I am grateful that Lisa never let me stop.” – Ana (George Mason University) Pictured Left: Mentor Lisa with Scholar Ana and her children

Mentors also play a role with financial support. Mentors commit to providing $1,200/year ($100/month) toward their Scholar’s tuition if the Scholar is attending a 2-year college or $2,400/year ($200/month) if the Scholar is attending a 4-year college. This contribution — made monthly or once a year — bridges the gap between a Scholar’s financial aid (including government Pell Grants) and the real cost of attending college, to help them graduate with as little debt as possible. Mentors make this tax-deductible donation themselves or raise it through fundraising. 

Generation Hope Mentors are the “special sauce” that help our Scholars beat the odds–graduating at a rate that is nearly 8 times the graduation rate of single mothers nationwide, and exceeding the average rate for all college students. And we provide robust support to our Mentors. Each Mentor is backed up day-to-day by our staff of case workers, or “Hope Coaches,” and we also have a Mental Health Coordinator on staff. We are truly a team, so mentors don’t feel like they are on their own.

Will you join us as a Mentor for our incoming Scholar class? In the face of the incredible challenges from COVID-19, we’ve already seen so many inspiring examples of what is possible when communities come together to help one another through these tough times. To learn more, or to apply, visit our website or contact our Director of Programming, Caroline Griswold Short (caroline@supportgenerationhope.org). 

Generation Hope is one of six nonprofit organizations focused on student success that is part of the 3-year College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative in partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Scheidel Foundation.

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