The HEMI program began as just an idea and has evolved into a program that now serves dozens of foster youth. We have grown from initially attempting to find ways to support the foster youth who emancipate from foster care each year and preventing our youth from being included into the National statistics we find so daunting. 25% are incarcerated within two years 20% become homeless58% complete high school, compared to 87% of peers3% earn college degrees, compared to 28% of peersNow, HEMI is a program celebrating 3 years of providing Hamilton County foster youth a long term academic mentoring relationship throughout their educational journey.
Recognizing the urgent need to provide support and educational opportunities to foster children as they move from the foster care system to adulthood, a number of prominent local organizations have come together to lead the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative. The involvement of each of these participants is testimony to the collective community interest in improving the lives of at-risk youth and the Greater Cincinnati community. The following organizations have stepped up to leadership roles in this initiative. As a partnership, we are able to find effective ways to support our students, leverage resources and plan ahead.
HEMI is fulfilling a need in our community. Statistics show that 70% of foster youth want to go to college, but yet, Less than 13% will enroll and only 2-3% will obtain Bachelor’s degrees. By providing mentors to work directly with our students helps to facilitate their dream into a reality. Mentors serve as educational consultants- establishing long term, positive relationships with foster care youth. The mentors assist, encourage and support academic achievement through high school and help create a direct pathway to higher education.Mentees are students in foster care who may live with a foster family, in a group home, or have an apartment through an Independent Living program, all of whom are cared for by Hamilton County. The students attend various schools across Hamilton County in the greater Cincinnati area and are referred to the HEMI program by County Section Chiefs and Caseworkers. The HEMI program is now serving 48 students and 48 mentors. We started by serving only 25 and have nearly doubled in size and we plan to continue to grow each year.
As a program, we offer Trainings, a mentor support group, daily support for mentors and students, and we have hosted an annual education fair in which our partnering schools represent the various types of educational opportunities that are available to our youth after high school graduation. Mentors help prepare students to graduate by assisting them with ACT preparation and meeting with school personnel to best understand and then support the student’s needs. Many of the HEMI mentors have attended team meetings at the school and have been included in school related functions. Some of the HEMI mentors have been able to work with their student on the education process at the high school during study hall hours. Mentors help students identify their strengths and work with students to identify and plan for their education.They assist students in exploring educational options by doing research, meeting with others, visiting potential schools of interest, as well as educate students of the various options.Mentors attend school meetings (Monica and Sarah)Mentors and students are bonding and are becoming life long, supportive friends.
As a result of the positive relationships the mentors have established with our youth and because HEMI mentors assist our students in all aspects of their education, 100% of the HEMI students have graduated high school. And, 82% have successfully enrolled in post secondary education. For those students attendingPost secondary education, many of them have received grant funding and scholarships to minimize the cost of their education.
We are committed to quality programming as we evolve. We wanted to briefly touch on some accomplishments that give us such pride.HEMI has received national and state recognition. Our program received a CollegeKeys award through the College Board for getting students ready for higher education. And, the statewide initiative, Ohio REACH has recognized HEMI as a vital program and the board has invited us to present at their annual conference each year.We have developed a quality training program and supportive network for our mentors that occurs monthly. We have quarterly activities such as the job skills event that I mentioned previously. And, our action groups are viewed as a success as well. We have had success with our mentor recruitment efforts and have maintained volunteers.We are learning from our program participants and have developed a better and clearer vision with options for our youth. EXAMPLE- Ed FairWe have developed a stronger infrastructureWe have a committed partnershipLast summer, our Steering Committee came together for a day long leadership retreat and spent the day planning for the year, which we plan to do again this year and ultimately make an annual event.We now have a website: HEMImentors.org and we are working with the UC IT department and their co-op students to design a management system to capture and store data on all of our mentors and mentees.
I think we would all agree that HEMI is a special program.We believe that our partnership and collaborative spirit have helped define our program.And, we have not only developed the program without a formalized model, but have used our expertise collectively to navigate the many barriers youth face after they emancipate. In fact, we have tailored and tweaked our program to address the ever evolving needs our program participants identify.The HEMI mentors and students have also come together to create their own community and support system. Students have become aware of opportunities that they may not have otherwise known. Mentors are learning and experiencing the barriers youth face and we are committed to supporting one another.And, overtime, our community is gaining awareness and creating positive social change. Last May, we hosted a workshop, inviting key stakeholders in our community, mentors, caseworkers, foster parents, foster youth, educators and social workers to come together to identify the barriers foster youth face. Throughout the day, many issues were presented, but 5 common themes continually emerged.And, by the end of the day, our community identified areas we need to support our aging out foster youth--with employment, housing, education, life skills and the overall support and needs of foster youth.After identifying these key issues, people signed up to be a part of a group and find creative and positive solutions to these problems. Now, after just a year later, the groups have identified various strategies to further support HEMI youth.EXAMPLE- Job skills event
Kate- How Kate Became Involved with HEMI:ApplyAttend info sessions?Background checkReferencesInterview Attend training
Hemi presentation 2012
* Ohio REACH Conference~ May 7, 2012 Presented by: Kate Livingston, Mariah Maxwell & Annie Schellinger
* The Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) provides Hamilton County youth a long- term mentoring relationship that begins in high school and is focused on awareness of, and preparation for, post-secondary education and training. *
* The HEMI Program recruits, trains, and supports mentors to establish positive, long- term relationships with foster care youth.* HEMI mentors assist, encourage, and support student academic achievement through high school and help create a direct pathway to higher education. *
* Foster youth often face challenging life circumstances while being moved in and out of homes during their lives.* For many foster youth, pursuing their education beyond high school is often difficult to achieve due to many factors: * Housing * Financial * Medical * Educational * Lack of Family Support * Struggles to Achieve basic survival * Awareness * Lack of Preparation *
* HEMI currently serves 48 Students: * 14 Juniors (29%) * 12 Seniors (25%) * 9 High School Graduates (process of enrolling) (18%) * 6 College Freshman (13%) * 6 College Sophomores (13%) * 1 College Junior (2%) * Ages 16-21* HEMI currently serves 48 Mentors: * 36 Women * 12 Men * 68% Masters Degree * 30% Bachelors Degree * 2% Associates Degree * Ages 28-72 *
Exploring post-secondary education options* ACT/SAT preparation* College tours* College applications* FAFSA* Scholarship opportunities* Tutoring* Support *
* To date, 100% of HEMI students have graduated high school * 82% Successfully attend higher education* Students have received scholarships * Diversity scholarship through UC * ETV * Casey Family * TRIO * Women’s Alliance * Ohio Opportunity * Mount St. Joseph Academic Scholarship * Ohio Young Scholars *
* National and State Recognition* Monthly Mentor Training/ Support Group* Quarterly events* Action Groups* Mentor Recruitment Strategies* Mentor Retention* Infrastructure* Commitment of Partners* Database/Website* Fundraising *
*Partnerships/ collaboration*Evolving Program*Students become aware of opportunities*Community Awareness*Action Groups* Mariah & Kate *
* Quarterly Activities and their impact/importance* What HEMI is to Kate and Mariah* How HEMI has helped and how Kate and Mariah have given back *
* When Kate and Mariah met* Where Kate and Mariah met* How Kate and Mariah learned about HEMI* Why Kate wanted to become a mentor and the process *
* What challenges did Kate & Mariah face together* What challenges Kate faced as a mentor* How Kate & Mariah overcame these challenges* What have Kate & Mariah accomplished* What Kate feels like they have accomplished* Successes and how they became successes *
* Tips for developing relationships* Long distance mentoring* How Mariah have grown since having a mentor *