Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Call for Oklahoma Mentoring Data?

Why are we soon making a request for Oklahoma mentoring data from our networked mentoring programs? 

How can your organization's reporting help Oklahoma or your organization? 

See the recent four-page release from Minnesota.

"Executive Summary,"  State of Mentoring in Minnesota

"It is widely accepted by numerous research studies that youth can benefit significantly by having a mentor in their lives. Mentors provide youth with the confidence, resources, continuity, and support they need to achieve their potential.  Mentoring programs in Minnesota are serving 196,592 youth by matching 40,665 volunteer mentors."

The summary shows what mentoring looks like in Minnesota through such data as impact, cost of programs, ages served (There is a sharp increase of 17% in the number of high school youth being mentored,), gender of mentors and mentees, number of youths waiting to be mentored, locations, gaps, and other useful information.

A quote cited for the importance of the data gathering by the mentoring partnership:

"Statistics about mentoring in Minnesota have been very useful for grant writing purposes."

See the full summary below.

Thanks to Volunteers for Youth's Melynda Stone for sending us the link. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Youth Mentoring Research & Outcomes Update

Excerpts from MENTOR's PDF linked below:


"...for every dollar invested in effective mentoring programs, there is a return of $2.72."

Dropout Crisis

"Nationwide, nearly one-third of high school students fail to graduate...approximately 1.3 million students drop out each year--averaging 7,200 every school day."

"The Alliance for Excellent Education estimate[d] that high school dropouts from the class of 2006-07 [would] cost the U.S. more than $329 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes..."  [No known current research available]

"In summary, high school dropouts are:
  • Less likely to have a job or earn less, on average, than high school graduates
  • Less likely to have health insurance than those with more education and more likely to depend or Medicaid or Medicare for their coverage;
  • More likely to depend on public assistance; and
  • More likely to be incarcerated."                    See PDF for sources.
Quality Mentoring as a Solution

"...positive outcomes in three key areas:
  • Socia-emotional development (higher self-esteem, better relationships with adults and peers);
  • Behavioral/risk-related behavior (avoiding drugs/alcohol/juvenile justice issues, bullying);
  • Academic performance (truancy, connection to school and adults), dropout indicators, achievement)."

Oklahoma Dropout Data: Ret. 6-21-13

For 2011-12:
175,671, Oct. 1, 2011 enrollment, grades 9-12 under 19 years of age
4,003 Oklahoma dropouts
2.3% dropout rate
This would exclude any child who dropped out before 9th grade.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Technology & Learning

At a recent Oklahoma Afterschool Network (OKAN) meeting at techJOYnT in Oklahoma City, attendees enjoyed some of the recent and on-order additions to the robotics there.  Summer interns, Ray's children, who inspired the foundation, and others demonstrated various robots and modules.  The techJOYnT concept consists of hands-on learning of applied math and science, critical thinking and teamwork mixed with fun. 
Today's post is intended for information, not advertising. Postsecondary institutions and some secondary ones in Oklahoma have funding for similar technology and more, but not every Oklahoma child or teacher has access.  Ray Shaik, the founder and CEO, is developing additional curriculum for some robotics kits, which can be rented to schools.  Different robotics teach applied algebra, physics, geometry, trigonometry or more in addition to programming.

Learning, or in some cases, "recreating" with robotics could also be a shared activity for grown-ups, a parent and child, or a mentor and mentee. 

  • Mini-power plant program with a module containing little houses and a photo-sensor to determine solar input and conventional energy input
  • Hydrogen car module with software
  • Sphero - Spherical robots of various colors, lighted when active, could be directed to defend a target or given another mission and controlled by cell phones or tablet
  • AR.Drone - Quadcopter, the hovering “drone," equipped with four horizontal propellers, a camera and controlled by a cell phone or tablet
  • Armbot, a bobotic arm attached to a board with angles indicated.  Students applied programming to "instruct" the components of the arm to move into angles.
  • Robotic basketball launcher (on loan)
  • A video of the humanoid robot on order (Aldebaran NAO Robot below)

1. Aldebaran NAO Robot and curriculum -

2. RobotsLAB BOX - A complete educational kit for classroom robotics

Video explaining the kit

More videos on the RobotsLAB BOX

3. National Instruments myDAQ and Minisystems   "Engineering Concepts Come to Life with NI miniSystems(iphone)"

[Unrelated but interesting beginning research:  Using NAO, the humanoid robot, to work with autistic children]

techJOYnT Education Foundation
Photos from  Ret. 6-20-13

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sesame Street Muppets Visit Prison

TODAY   |  June 17, 2013

‘Sesame Street’ talks to kids about incarceration

For more than 40 years, “Sesame Street” has been helping kids tackle tough topics like death and divorce. With one in 28 kids having a parent behind bars, the show will now be tackling the topic of understanding jail time. NBC’s Erica Hill reports.  [The transcript is below; at the bottom are links for the Today Show video and toolkits.]

Savannah Guthrie, Today Show anchor: "A tough topic is being taken up on Sesame Street for the first time, incarceration and it's impact on kids. Erica Hill is here with details on that.

Hill:  "It may seem like an odd pairing, but for kids who better to talk about having a parent behind bars than their friends on Sesame Street. This weekend some of the famous characters made a very special Father's Day at one New York jail."

"For more than 40 years, Sesame Street has been bringing kids those sunny days but never before inside a jail. Her son hasn't seen his dad in six months. But today, she has made an exception bringing her two-year-old to visiting day and reuniting her family because those familiar muppets promised a sunny day. It was a chance to spend much needed time with his son. It's tough to find a kid of any age that doesn't connect with the characters of Sesame Street. Over the past few years, Sesame Workshop used that relationship to tackle topics you likely won't find on a Saturday morning cartoon."

Hill:  "Hunger."

Muppet:   "I go with my family to the food pantry."

Hill:  "Divorce."

Muppet:  "This is where I live with my mommy."

Hill:  "Even military deployments."

Muppet:  "Daddy has to go away for lots and lots of days."

Hill:  "But incarceration is perhaps the most unexpected. Meet Alex, the first muppet to have a dad in jail."

Muppet, Alex: "I just miss him so much."

Hill:  "Is it easier for kids to hear these things coming from a muppet?"

Jeannette Betancourt, VP, Outreach & Education Practices, Sesame Workshop:  "Coming from a muppet, it's almost another child telling their story to children."

"One in 28 children in the U.S. has a parent behind bars."

Hill: "1 in 28 children in the U.S. has a parent behind bars. It's more than having a parent deployed, but it's talked about less."

Muppet, Alex: "I don't want people to know about my dad."

Hill:  "Which is why he is talking about it with his friends on Sesame Street as part of a new tool kit for families and schools. For the folks here [Rikers Island] where two-thirds of the inmates are parents, making that connection is essential."

Winnette Saunders, Community Development, NYC Department of Corrections: "We want to make sure that the kids understand that what has happened has nothing to do with them."

Hill:  "A message they cheerfully share with kids and parents alike. And Alex, the new muppet, won't be part of the regular cast. He's only part of that tool kit which is available online."

Guthrie:  "A tough conversation to have but makes it easier when it's with the friendly little faces."

Sesame Street Toolkits

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mentoring Data Tips I

Although all mentoring organizations must collect data, beginning a discussion about what kinds of data we collect in Oklahoma is important to know results and track growth.  Porsche Linnemann primarily contributed these suggestions.   

Each mentoring agency decides what outcomes would benefit them most from reporting

Outcomes are becoming more and more crucial in reporting to funding sources or to gain new funding sources. 

Foundations want to fund projects that have a visible, tangible impact on the community that they serve. 

Types of outcomes:

Short-term outcomes, e.g., increased self-esteem, decreased absenteeism, grade promotion, decrease in juvenile delinquency

Long-term outcomes, e.g., graduation from high school, reduced adult incarceration rates, successful entry and exit from postsecondary education

• What is each mentoring agencies’ mission? 

• How will they know that the resources they are providing are having a positive impact on the child?

Types of data collection:

Subjective – based upon one’s personal perspective, observations, discovery or feelings

Example:  surveys from mentee, mentor, counselor, teacher, parent, or others

Topics:  self-esteem, changes in attitude, social skills with peers and/or adults, family relationships, mental health, etc.

Objective – based upon facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations; measurable, quantifiable

Example:  Actual measurable data

Topics:  Truancy, physical improvement, substance abuse, delinquency, vocational status/planning, educational status/grade improvement, immigrant/ELL, responsible sexual behavior, anger management, etc.

Linneamann says that the most effective data collection that BBBS does is by directly asking either the mentors/parent/child a set of questions. 

When to ask questions or survey?

Pre-evaluation – offers a firm place of where each child  with grades, attendance, self-esteem and risk behaviors before they began the mentoring program

Post-evaluation – how far the mentee has developed while in the mentoring program

How often to ask questions or survey?

Annually – every 12 months 

More frequently – every six months

Possible questions:

Change wording based on audience (parent/mentor/child).

Create a 5-point scale for these questions, i.e., 1 = worse, 3 = no change,  5 = improved, or  1= F  3= C  5= A.  Change the scale based on question.

1.   On average, what is a typical grade for your child?

2.   On average, how many days of school will your child miss each semester?

3.   Have you seen improvement in your child’s grades since having a mentor (or over the past year)?

4.   Have you seen improvement in your child’s attendance rate since having a mentor (or over the past year)?

5.   Have you seen an improvement in your child’s self-esteem since having a mentor (or over the past year)?

6.   How would you rate your child’s classroom behavior?

7.   How would you rate your child’s relationship with peers?

8.   How would you rate your child’s relationship with their teacher?

9.   Will your child be promoted to the next grade level?

10.   Has your child been involved with the juvenile justice system this past year?

This is just a sample of questions mentoring agencies can ask.  Once they figure out what it is they want to measure (or what outcomes they want to see in the children they are mentoring) that will drive the questions that are developed.  Then it’s a matter of consistently asking questions to a certain group (parent/mentor/child) at a fixed time period (six months, 12 months).

Porsche Linnemann, BBBBOK director of program operations and national-level data expert, is also a member of the Boren Mentoring Initiative’s Advisory Committee, 2012-13.   Email, 4-29-13

Note:  Many mentoring groups have posted online pre- and post-surveys to download or adapt.  The BMI has many of these on e-file available upon request, or we can help you adapt one for your program.

Photos from

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sesame Street Toolkit for Children of Incarcerated Parents

A scene from the film "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration."
/ Sesame Workshop / CBS News 
Why would this not be helpful for all ages?  The principles are the same.  Tool kits and tips for parents and caregivers for other topics such as grief are available in English and Spanish. 


June 9, 2013 10:02 AM 
New Sesame Workshop film helps children of jailed parents

(CBS News) A new program is aiming to make kids in crisis streetwise -- "Sesame Street" wise, that is. Seth Doane reports:

At 24, Francis Adjei is now the head of his household, a role he never imagined having to play.

"One day, we're all together having dinner; following day, she's in jail. And we don't know what to do," he said.

Two years ago his mother, Jackie Pokuwaah, A Ghanaian immigrant, was convicted of grand larceny, and is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence at a state penitentiary.

Adjei had to drop out of school, and now spends his days managing his siblings' schedules, trying to keep them in school.

His 7-year-old brother, Tyler, has to catch the school bus by 7:15. His 19-year-old sister, Francisca, who has epilepsy, helps where she can; and Francis spends an hour each way taking his 10-year-old sister, Breanna, on the subway to get her to school.

"My mother, the only person that takes care of all these things, she's not around. So now, it all falls on me now," Francis told Doane.

"When the police came and took your mom," Doane asked Francis, "did anyone ever explain what it meant to be incarcerated?"

"To the children? No," he replied. "We've never went down that direct path, just kind of been beating around the bush."

"Why was it so difficult to explain, to talk about?"

"I don't know, it was a very hard position to be in," he replied. "I didn't know what to tell them. I didn't even know how to go about it."

But soon Adjei and his brothers and sisters will find a little help on a familiar street: Sesame Street.

Melissa Dino is in charge of a Sesame Workshop production aimed at helping families like Francis' cope.

She told Doane she was struck by the lack of resources for those with an incarcerated parent.
The new, 30-minute documentary mixes the fictional with real-life. It will not air on the regular "Sesame Street" show, but will be distributed this week to therapists' offices, schools and prisons.

And there is certainly a built-in audience. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, there are currently 2.3 million Americans behind bars, the largest prison population in the world, which means one in every 28 kids in the U.S. has a parent in prison. That's up from one in 125 just 25 years ago.

"Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility" - Pew Charitable Trust (pdf)

Some of those 2.7 million minors -- including Francis' sister, Breanna Amankwah -- say they don't like people to know a parent is in prison.

"When it comes up in a conversation, I just feel uncomfortable, like, really uncomfortable," she told Doane. "I don't feel like talking. I kind of feel a little stiff, and I don't really feel normal."

"Why do you say that you don't feel normal?" asked Doane.

"Because it feels like I'm sick or something," she replied.

Dino said children sometimes think it's their fault that a parent was incarcerated. "They have difficult, guilty feelings; they have all kinds of feelings. They're not sure how to express them," she said.

"Incarcerated" features a Muppet character, Alex, who has experienced a father who is in jail. The colorful character is, in effect, color-blind.

"The beauty of a Muppet," said Dino, "is they can be any color. They can speak to so many different children. Alex is orange and he's got blue hair, so he doesn't speak to any one particular ethnicity or race. He speaks to all children."

Sesame Workshop, which let us peek behind the scenes at its nine-month-long process, has in recent years tackled issues from divorce to deployment to death.

And Sesame recognized that incarceration was an issue that affected kids, too. More than 50 percent (54%) of people behind bars have a child under 18.

"You see the mom squeezing her kid's hand a little tighter saying 'It's gonna be okay,' you explain the loud sounds you hear when the bars close, you explain all of the waiting -- it's almost like you're trying to help some kids go through the process," said Doane.

"Absolutely," said Dino. "It's intimidating. You just imagine -- and I'm a mother -- a young child waking up to this building and the barbed wire and the guards and the guns and the security process. And it's so intimidating and so scary."

When asked if she knew what to expect when she went into a prison, Breanna said, "Not really. I went through security and they put this kind of invisible ink on my hand with this number on it. So then, we walked through these metal gates."

Breanna, a fan of anything Sesame, says it can all be a little disorienting. Her brother Francis believes it's just as tough on the caretaker, no matter the age.

"Because it's different situations popping up every day," he said. "Today, maybe you need to tell them why she's not around. But tomorrow, you have to tell them why there's no food."

So Sesame Street, in its simple, familiar way, is trying to break it down, using imaginary characters to explore -- and explain -- what was once unimaginable, but now more and more common.

For more info:
 •"Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration" (Toolkit for kids, parents)
 •The Osborne Association

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reception & Announcement Photos, BBBS Oklahoma

Kim Owen, BBBSOK board chair;
Charles Pierson, BBBS of America CEO;
Sharla Owens, BBBSOK CEO
At an elegant reception at Nonna's Altus Room in Oklahoma City, Charles Pierson, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, along with BBBS OK board members, staff and supporters, celebrated his vision of providing measurable impact to children and the naming of Scott Lesser, former 2013 BBBS OKC's Big Brother, as Oklahoma's 2013 Big Brother.

Attendees included supporters from all over the state.  As a special treat, three family members of the "founder" of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oklahoma attended. Read on!

Dezmond Finley talks about his Big Brother Scott.  

A view from the back of the room as Pierson speaks.

Dezmond Finley with his mother Zikiyyah Borkins and Curtis Jones

Jovanna Carey, BBBSOK, and an unidentified coworker

Oklahoma State Representatives Ann Coody and Jadine Nollan;
former Speaker of the House Kris Steele, a longtime supporter of BBBS;
and Sharla Owens, BBBSOK CEO

Lee Ann DeArman, BBBSOKC board member,
with Nicholas Singer

Gregory, Nancy and Nick Farha,
family of the late Oklahoma County Judge William Robert Saied,
who established the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Altus in 1951
to keep youths out of trouble

Britnee and Scott Lesser, Oklahoma Big Brother of the Year

Crystal Bryant, BBBS Stillwater intern;
Jessica Dale, BBBS Stillwater program director;
and Stephanie Bryant, BBBS Stillwater area director

Shelly Welch, BBBS Shawnee board member

Cathy Tompkins, BBBSOK board member

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Metro Tech - Model Foundation & Mentoring Program

Metro Tech Foundation
Part of the Boren Mentoring Initiative’s purpose is to identify best practices and models for adaptation elsewhere.  Metro Tech Foundation has many valuable elements and a highly energetic board and staff.  Metro Tech is even launching a one-to-one mentoring program.

The goal for help is to keep high school and adult students in school working on certifications and postsecondary work.  More of a hands-up rather than a hands-out program, the array of case-by-case services funded by the foundation ranges from bus money, tire or repair money, utility bill payment, clothes closet replete with prom attire, groceries as needed and scholarships, which can include money or beginning work tools.  A student-prepared PowerPoint presentation illustrated the benefits eloquently. 

Of special note are two student groups appropriately named Men of Distinction and Women of Worth.  These accomplished students are groomed for job interviews and other social skills and bought an interview suit if needed.  Students meet weekly, and their advisors are always seeking opportunities for the students to interact or network or learn in a business setting.  
2013 scholars photographed with two of the scholarship benefactors received $17,000. 

Scholarship Recipients

Dr. Donna Neal Thomas Scholarship -
Angelica Martinez

Dr. Mark Vincent Scholarship -
Nykesha Bagby

Ron N. Huff Scholarship -
Troy D. Bice, Jr.
Juan Lopez
Miguel Romero

The Grainger Foundation Scholarship -
Zachary Cooksey
Timothy Dowell
Joshua G. Juline
Jonathan Scott Kummell
Darrell Moncrief
Phuc L. Nguyen
Also special is that Metro Tech staff member JoAnn Johnson strives to solve students’ issues within twenty-four hours! 

The Sowing Seeds of Success Banquet had over 37 sponsors.  Kimray was the largest sponsor. Tom Hill, emeritus Metro Tech trustee, founder of Character First and chairman of Kimray, explained that the technology center had trained in-house Kimray employees in the company’s beginning.   
Fellow attendees at one of McAfee & Taft's tables include Vicki Van Stavern, commercial interior designer; her husband Don Narcomey, a professional artist; attorneys Jennifer Callahan and Sean Hunt with stanchion bearing the McAfee & Taft sign; Rodney Huntsinger and Joshua Smith, also McAfee & Taft attorneys; and Khanita Jefferson, Metro Tech mentor coordinator. 

Richard Cudjo, who is 2nd VP of Morgan-Stanley in Oklahoma City, told a story about retiring Metro Tech superintendent Dr. James Branson.  When Cudjo had to throw papers to stay in school, Branson said,
If you can get to our house, you can borrow our pickup.
 Branson never offered to pick up Cudjo, nor did he problem-solve for him.

Metro Tech's horticulture students designed and made the uniquely appealing centerpieces.  In addition to a complete luncheon meal, guests either consumed on the spot or tucked into their purses or pockets iced shortbread "thank you" cookies, another thoughtful detail. 

Thanks to an invitation from Cindy Friedemann, the director of the foundation staff along with many other roles she assumes at Metro Tech, and a seat at a table sponsored by McAfee & Taft, I was fortunate to learn a little about the wide range of services the Metro Tech Foundation provides for its high school and adult students. 
Although the foundation is over 25 years old, Trustee Emeritus James Branscum and his truly dedicated board of trustees have resurrected and restructured the nonprofit in the most meaningful way to serve its students.  Ruben Aragon, president, Metro Tech Foundation; president and CEO of the Latino Community Development Agency; and chairman of the board, Sierra Blanca Petroleum Energy, lends his contagious enthusiasm, powerful passion and creative persuasion to the same qualities in Richard Cudjo, who is also chair, Foundation Resource Development Committee.  Saying "no" to this group is probably impossible.

See Metro Tech Foundation:
'Riotous applause to all!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Camp Ideas, Volunteers for Youth, Rogers County

Melynda Stone, executive director of Rogers County Volunteers for Youth, and her team have fun opportunities for area youths.
The BLAST Camp is chocked full of supervised activities for a reasonable price. 
The Skate Board Camp for all ages, conducted by local skaters is a clever, fun idea.  Even the price for two days of lessons, thrills and spills is a value.
Melynda, thanks for sharing your ideas with us all!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Studio 222 on television

For its show Gallery, OETA produced a video about the after-school arts-oriented program, Studio 222, which now has a middle school program and two new elementary school programs. 

Thanks to Julie Robinson for creating the program and to all the volunteers, mentors and supporters of St. Luke's United Methodist Church for supporting and expanding it.


Support the Oklahoma Education Television Authority!