Faith-Based Mentorship: African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2nd Episcopal District
In early 2016, the foundation conceived of a unique faith-based mentorship concept in which it would partner with the African Methodist Episcopal Church to create a faith-based link between home and school by connecting local African-American churches with churches in minority students’ college towns. The first African-American denomination organized and incorporated in the United States, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church has a unique history as the first major religious denomination in the western world born in protest against racial discrimination and slavery.
Designed as a home away from home, “Helping College Students Finish Strong” is a mentoring, nurturing, and retention program for African-American college students to help them graduate from college or university. The comprehensive approach targets three groups: 1) entering college freshmen who will allow AME to track their academic progress and provide necessary ongoing interventions to support their academic progress from beginning to end; 2) African-American male students; and 3) any minority college student committed to academic success and future career opportunities who is attending a historically black college/university. Additionally, any college students needing support services to assist them in completing their degree program are welcome to enroll.
This program is designed to build a sense of community and a nurturing environment by providing academic support (tutoring, supplemental instruction, financial resources) and career and general guidance within a student’s traditional faith setting. These amenities will assist students in navigating through college and provide them with the necessary support to complete their degree program.
The program is intended to ease the anxieties of parents and guardians and reduce the loneliness and fear of being away from home for students. An emergency fund will be available for students who need assistance to return home for emergency reasons. The program will serve college students in a loving and caring environment, where families and individuals in the local AME church community will receive training to “adopt” a student for the school year, offering them a safe space to relax and providing a home away from home. Host families will provide hot meals at least once a week.
The program will track students in the local congregations and/or communities who have been accepted or are currently attending a college or university that is in the Second Episcopal District. The Second District comprises Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Students will be matched to mentoring sites where a college retention plan will be developed. Benchmarks will be set to track college matriculation, persistence, and graduation and evaluated four times each semester to ensure that students are on track for graduation.