When Los Altos High School senior Barbara Garcia first heard she had the opportunity to work with a mentor, she knew she wanted one.
“My parents didn’t go to college,” she said. “I knew if I needed help, I needed someone else to go to. I needed someone I could go to who I could develop a deeper relationship with.”
Enter Partners for New Generations, a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer mentors for students in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District and tutors in the elementary and intermediate grades in Los Altos and Mountain View schools.
Garcia and her mentor, Connie Ives, have been paired since Garcia was a junior, and the two have spent many lunches getting to know one another, sharing about their families and helping Garcia get into college.
“I like having someone else to talk to when you are having a rough day,” Garcia said of Ives. “She is that third person, a mediator. She is another adult who has different experiences to share. It is always nice to have different input.”
More importantly, Ives has helped Garcia connect with assistance on her college essays and SAT preparation.
“I’m just another adult in her life to talk to if she has worries or concerns,” Ives said, “or if she just wanted another friend who has different experience from her parents, teachers or peers.”
Ives and Garcia usually go out for lunch, but they have hiked the Stanford Dish trail together and attended a Stanford girls basketball game. Ives has also attended Garcia’s basketball games and plans to attend some acting class performances next month.
“It’s nice to be around young people and stay in touch to see what is going on in high school,” Ives said.
Claudia Hevel, who works part time for Partners for New Generations, said the mentor/mentee relationship offers students someone to talk to.
“We are trying to provide a caring adult in their lives to help the students thrive,” Hevel said. “It’s not prescriptive – we are not telling them what they should be doing, we are just providing them someone who will listen.”
In addition to the 45 mentor/mentee pairs at Mountain View, Los Altos and Alta Vista high schools, Partners for New Generations provides tutoring for younger students.
Forty-four tutors serve approximately 265 students at 12 of the 14 public elementary schools in Los Altos and Mountain View.
The organization has been ramping up its supply of intermediate-level tutors. There are currently 25 tutors assisting 32 students at intermediate schools in Los Altos and Mountain View.
Donations from the Town Crier Holiday Fund help underwrite the salaries of PNG’s four part-time coordinators, who help match mentors and tutors with students.