Mentor Tutor Connection: Making bigger commitment to students amid year of change

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Courtesy of Carol Olson
A group of mentors and mentees visit the elephant seals in Año Nuevo State Park in February, pre-shelther-in-place.

• Mission: Mentor Tutor Connection, entering its 25th year, aims to enhance the academic and life skills of local youth through individualized volunteer tutoring and mentoring. Mentors work with high school students facing challenges due to socioeconomic or other personal circumstances; tutors volunteer in the classroom and after-school homework programs at elementary and middle schools to help students who are falling behind in reading, math, science and other subjects.

• 2020 update: The need to support young people is greater than ever, according to Mentor Tutor Connection executive director Carol Olson, as many students cope with new burdens caused by social isolation, uncertainty, trauma and stress amid the pandemic.

“When MTC mentors and tutors show up for kids with compassion and consistency, it makes a difference,” she said. “MTC has adapted our programs to help young people engage in school and to remain hopeful about their futures.”

MTC recently launched its Remote Tutoring Program, which prioritizes local elementary and middle school students with economic and academic need, and offers individualized academic support online.

“MTC’s remote tutors will provide the critical one-on-one attention and support for students that could make all the difference in the student’s academic success and enjoyment,” said Geoffrey Chang, the Mountain View Whisman School District’s director of strategic programs.

Mentors are finding creative ways to maintain strong relationships with their mentees virtually, Olson said, checking in regularly, reassuring them that things will get better and learning more about the students’ interests – from music to sports. Many mentors also have been involved in school meetings with students and teachers, working together to address and overcome barriers associated with distance learning and isolation.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: MTC plans to use money to cover added expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Olson, such as program redesign and new volunteer training.

MTC also plans to increase volunteer recruitment and support to meet the increased demands for academic, social and emotional support of students during this school year and beyond.

Mentor Tutor Connection

Location: Public schools in Los Altos and Mountain View
Founded: 1996 (as Partners for New Generations)
Annual budget: $286,000
Staff: 8 part-time employees; 189 volunteers


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