College Now is only grant recipient in Ohio to receive AmeriCorps Volunteer Generation Fund Award
College Now Greater Cleveland has been awarded $270,232 from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. As the only Ohio-based organization awarded a grant from the AmeriCorps Volunteer Generation Fund, College Now will recruit and train 600 new volunteer mentors for its impactful mentoring program.
Now in its twelfth year, College Now’s mentoring program provides a needed extra later of support for the organization’s postsecondary education scholarship awardees, as well as all
Say Yes Cleveland scholarship recipients. Mentors and mentees are matched for five years of students’ postsecondary education, and mentors guide their mentees through tough first-year transitions and other issues throughout their college journey that could cause them to leave school.
While the vast majority of College Now and Say Yes Cleveland scholarship recipients are Pell grant-eligible, 60% are first-generation college students. The 1,700 current volunteer mentors – all of whom have earned at least two-year degree – help students persist through college graduation, with 70% graduating on time, well above the national rate (46%) of students who receive the federal Pell grant. Students in the mentoring program receive various types of support from their mentors, including much-needed social capital and exposure and access to internships and career opportunities.
“This AmeriCorps grant will dramatically increase our impact on postsecondary educational attainment and equity by increasing our ability to provide impactful volunteer mentors to our scholarship recipients,” said Lee Friedman, College Now Greater Cleveland CEO. “This is critical as 58% of Ohio’s job growth by 2028 will require at least a bachelor’s degree. We are grateful for the opportunity to engage so many new volunteers, people who care deeply about our community and improving it for all of us.”
Mentors represent many facets of business, education, law, finance, media and more, with representation from more than 750 Northeast Ohio employers. Mentors and mentees are matched based on shared interests.
Nearly 79% of students served by College Now identify as people of color, and the organization is also focused on increasing the recruitment of diverse volunteer mentors as well as those in the LGBTQI+ community, further increasing student success rates as students who see themselves reflected in their mentors tend to graduate at higher rates.
In addition, with the AmeriCorps grant, College Now will expand its capacity to offer mentors robust training and enhanced education to better support their mentees. The trainings will include sessions on cultural competency, which will allow mentors to explore racial inequities in higher education and in society, and how these systemic issues impact their mentees as well as themselves.
For those interested in serving as a volunteer mentor, go to cngc.org/mentor.