There’s no better way to start the year off than by serving others through effective and philanthropic community involvement. New York City is renowned for being an incredibly populous, diverse, and inspired community - but that does not come without its challenges. For instance, 30% of children in New York City were considered poor which is 8% higher than the national average1. Similarly, the poverty rate for seniors is nearly double the national average.
In this post, we’re going to highlight a variety of organizations who are doing great work here at home. Allocating your time to mentoring in the new year can have a profoundly positive impact on your neighbors. There are many benefits associated with being a mentor including gaining leadership skills and getting yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s common for the mentor to learn from the mentee and for both people to get value out of the relationship, not just the child.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) reports that 56% of children who live in New York City are growing up in low-income families. Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) serves more than 5,000 underserved NYC youth by connecting them with adult mentors who are vetted and qualified. They also sponsor many programs for certifications and training. Significant research has been done related to BBBS’s impact and it has been shown that Littles who have spent at least 18 months with their Big are 52% less likely to skip school, 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, and 33% less likely to hit someone.
Girls Who Code
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, male K-12 students are three times as likely to take engineering classes and constitute over 80% of all AP computer science enrollments. This disparity is an issue Girls Who Code addresses by spreading awareness, resources for instruction, and mentoring opportunities for female technologists. Their aim is to resolve the gender gap in computer science by 2027. If you’re interested in volunteering, visit this page.
Many New York City children face difficulties and challenges at home. That’s one reason why creating a safe, educational, and inspirational environment for them at school is so important. Art Start has employed over 11,000 volunteers who mentor young kids in the arts: music, painting, writing, and more. The organization is currently focused on their Homeless Youth Outreach program where older artists can devote their time to kids aged 5 - 21 who are in desperate times. Volunteer here.
Literacy is truly the foundation of all learning. Without it, prospering in school or in the workforce is nearly impossible. Literacy Partners focuses on families; mentor volunteers are paired with parents and those parents’ kids to tutor and enhance their collective reading skills. Not only does this impact the child’s learning potential, but also improves the parents’ ability to support the family. There are many ways to get involved, but nothing beats signing up to become a mentor.
Children’s Aid has a pretty astounding track record including sourcing permanent adoptive families for 59 kids, delivering nearly 2,000 food boxes purchased by Children’s Aid families, and providing health and vision screenings for 100% of childhood students. Children’s Aid takes a holistic approach to serve kids, focusing their efforts to strengthen the mind and body. Their expert social workers on staff know how to alleviate complex and difficult family situations and can help teenagers navigate the transition into adulthood. Get involved with Children's Aid.
In the 21st century, it’s easy to overlook systemic female discrimination in the face of more blatant, more obvious forms of mistreatment. This reality makes the work of Girl Rising that much more critical. They take a highly informative, fact-based curriculum to schools around the world. They meet discrimination with education and are raising awareness for women worldwide. Get started today by reviewing the Girl Rising Curriculum and see how you can help them spread the word.
Individualized attention for young students can make a world of difference in their willingness and readiness to learn. Some students, especially in underserved and overlooked communities, just need a little nudge in the right direction from a mentor they trust. Reading Partners pairs volunteers with students who need support in learning how to read confidently. If you’re passionate about educating the next generation and mentorship, click here to get involved.
Girls Write Now
Aspiring female writers now have a network and community to lean on to gain experience and enhance their skills. Girls Write Now is a mentorship program which pairs high school girl writers with female professionals who have excelled in communications, PR, or digital media industries. The mentor and mentee work together to widen their perspectives, brainstorm, collaborate and more. Meeting weekly, they bounce ideas off of each other and help edit their work leading up to the Chapters Reading Series where final drafts are presented to other mentor/mentee pairs and special guests. For a detailed look into what a mentor got out of their involvement with Girls Write Now, read “Press Play: Girls Write Now”.
Lower East Side Girls Club
Girls aged 8 through 23 in low-income families are given a communal space where they can find mentoring in the arts, sciences, social justice, and wellness. Lower East Side Girls Club (LESGC) nurtures young girls who are often overlooked by society to overcome their obstacles and become strong, ethical, entrepreneurial citizens. Backed by influencers and moguls like Oprah Winfrey, LESGC provides mentorship opportunities in NYC’s Lower East Side. To get involved, click here.
Mentor Volunteer Opportunities
There are many ways to give back to your community. Signing up to become a mentor is a fantastic way to expand your horizons and find a sense of purpose. Not only can you expect to impact a young mind in your community, but you’ll likely learn a thing or two as well.
1 "Focus on Poverty in New York City" NYU Furman Center Web. Jan. 22 2019
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