Without a high school diploma, youth struggle to reach higher education or to find a career. Yet, one in five American youth did not finish high school in 2013. The number of disengaged youth who are neither working nor in school is 5.6 million, representing 14% of youth in the United States. The unfortunate reality is that many high school students face circumstances in life which make education a difficult task instead of a priority.
In light of these statistics, the importance of mentorship in dropout prevention is clear. One study determined that at-risk youth with mentors have fewer depressive symptoms, greater acceptance by their peers, more positive beliefs about their ability to succeed in school, and better grades to succeed in school than their counterparts without mentors. Another report indicated that at-risk youth with mentors are more likely to be enrolled in college than those without a mentor.
Founded in 2013, Partners in Achievement of Lowell Students is a mentorship program designed to engage at-risk youth in school and help them work toward post-secondary success. PALS youth are matched with college mentors who offer valuable perspective on education while providing guidance and attention. These mentoring relationships, in combination with PALS field trips, tutoring sessions, volunteer opportunities, and leadership opportunities, offer our students the support they need to graduate high school.
"...I was chosen to be a part of the program due to my many unexcused absences my sophomore year in high school. I had no desire to wake up for school and was battling bipolar depression/anxiety. I just thought school wasn't important anymore. Then Ms. Correa had talked to me about a program she was developing for kids who are having a hard time in school. Depending on failing classes, absences, and teens who are struggling at home. She recommended me immediately. So today here I am, coming to school every day and on time. The PALS program helped me understand that school is important and I should take it seriously. The people involved with the program are a great support system. If it wasn't for the PALS program helping me steer to the right path, I'd probably be a high school drop out."
-Macayla, PALS 2014-2015