Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THREE CHEERS; Together for Kids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THREE CHEERS; Together for Kids

Article excerpt

Northeast Florida is blessed to have many fine nonprofit agencies.

They can do even more good by setting up partnerships with businesses and fellow nonprofits.

A good example can be found in the Beyond School Walls program, a partnership between Comcast and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida.

Comcast has entered into a three-year agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters to promote high school graduation.

The program begins this school year to motivate and guide students from Sandalwood High School to graduate from high school and be prepared for post secondary opportunities.

Beyond School Walls is a version of the Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring program. The unique part is that 35 sophomores from Sandalwood will be transported to the Comcast corporate office to meet with their mentors.

If they succeed, the students will be the first in their family to graduate from high school. They will visit two times a month for about an hour, eat lunch and spend time together, reports Warren Grymes of the agency.

The students will get mentors and exposure to a positive work environment, new career paths and goals.

This program is modeled on one in southeastern Pennsylvania in 2008. In that program, 85 percent of the employees felt more connected to their community and 96 percent agreed that the program positively impacted them.

After being matched for only one year, 99 percent of the students were promoted to the next grade, and unexcused absences dropped by an average of two days. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida intends to replicate this program with other businesses in our community, with a goal of serving 5,000 children by the year 2015.

Congrats to great scholars

A total of 37 Duval County public school students were announced as National Merit Semifinalists.

Earning this honor takes a lot of hard work. About 1.5 million juniors took the Preliminary SAT test. …

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