State Representative Chris Perone, who was on hand for the announcement, added: “For seven decades, the Human Services Council has identified unmet community needs and has filled those gaps by creating and fostering programs that educate, safeguard, and empower the people of the Norwalk community.”
A member organization of Norwalk ACTS, the Human Services Council has been home to the Norwalk Mentor Program since 2009, and is uniquely qualified to provide children and adolescents with a quality mentoring experience in the very location where they spend the bulk of their time—at school. Serving all nineteen Norwalk Public Schools, the Norwalk Mentor Program made 248 mentor/mentee matches over the past school year, provided nearly 10,000 hours of mentoring, and saw 100% of its senior mentees graduate from high school with plans to attend college.
“It is notable that over the past school year 92% of the students in the Norwalk Mentor Program were from minority groups, and 76% of the students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch at school” commented Anthony DiLauro, Executive Director of the Human Services Council. “The on-site nature of our program eliminates barriers that keep students who might be at risk from enjoying the benefits of a mentor relationship.”
There is compelling Norwalk-specific data about the correlation between eligibility for free lunch and graduation rates. According to the Connecticut Department of Education, in 2012 only 54.2 percent of Hispanic males and only 57.6 percent of Black males who were eligible for free lunch graduated high school within four years (in comparison to 84.6 percent of all Norwalk Public School students who graduated within four years). DiLauro noted: “These young men are particularly at-risk and a large percentage of students in the Norwalk Mentor Program both fall into this category and greatly benefit from the supports we offer.”
According to end-of-year surveys, parents and school personnel overwhelmingly reported positive changes in their students who participated in the Norwalk Mentor Program. DiLauro shared: “It is exciting to witness the powerful impact that mentoring can have on the lives of Norwalk public school students, and we are grateful to AT&T Connecticut for their support of the Norwalk Mentor Program.”
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