TeamMates Mentoring Program
Together We Change Lives
by Ann Teget
A few years ago, TeamMates Executive Director Suzanne Hince was shocked to learn that a young lady who had participated in the TeamMates mentoring program had dropped out of college her second semester, despite earning a full-ride scholarship to a Nebraska university.
The young lady had earned a scholarship for tuition and room and board, but was overwhelmed when she received a larger than expected bill for books. When she didn’t have the money or the resources to pay that one bill, she assumed her only option was to quit school.
That’s when TeamMates leaders, began exploring ways to extend their elementary to high school mentoring program into post-secondary education.
“Sometimes, a small problem feels like a really big problem when you’re young,” Hince said. “We really saw an opportunity for [mentors and mentees] to brainstorm together and we began to develop a more formal post-secondary program.”
The TeamMates program began in Lincoln in 1991 with the vision of long-time University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife, Nancy. Twenty-two football players met with middle school students in the LIncoln Public Schools. Coach Osborne felt that the athletes in his program could make an impact on the middle school students and the program took off from there.
Through the TeamMates program, trained adult volunteers mentor a student for one hour per week on school campuses during the school year. The mentors simply serve as another caring adult in a young person’s life and spend time each week talking and sharing activities like playing games, doing crafts projects, or shooting hoops.
In just its third year, the post-secondary program is already seeing success. Program coordinator DeMoine Adams said research has shown that students who have mentors in college are more likely to stay in school and so far, 98 percent of the 107 students who have participated in the post-secondary program are continuing their education.
“We’ve recognized that some students just need some additional support and resources to help them figure some things out and help them succeed in college,” Adams said. “It would be a shame for even one student to drop out over a book bill.”
Currently, there are more than 1,000 TeamMates matches in Lincoln, but there are more than 600 students on a waiting list for a TeamMates mentor.
Hince says half of being a TeamMates mentor is simply, “showing up.” TeamMates trains volunteers and is looking for adults who are willing to invest just an hour a week to walk alongside a young person and show interest in a student’s hopes and dreams.
For more information or to lean more about being a TeamMates mentor, visit www.teammates.org or call 877-531-8326.
To become a mentor, there are three easy steps:
1. Apply – Go to teammates.org and click Become a Mentor to complete the application.
2. Train – Once you apply, you will be contacted to sign-up for a two-hour pre-match training.
3. Get Matched – Once you’ve been trained, you will be matched with a mentee based on common interests, hobbies or life experiences.
Questions? Contact Gayle Norris at 1-877-531-8326.