Thursday, November 13, 2014

Information about & Resources for Foster Alumni

Oklahoma currently has over 10,000 youths in foster care. At age 18, foster kids age out of the system. RisforThursday, derived from "R is for Thursday," is reaching out as a statewide network with multiple functions for foster alumni and much information upon which Oklahomans can act. 

Foster youths and foster alumni need mentors, too.

Watch the video Re-moved below. Utilize the resources. Subscribe to the RisforThursday network.

The RisforThursday Statewide Network of Oklahoma



To be added to our direct email list or to find our public Facebook page: Go to the link available on the front page of our webpage.

Contact information for the people in our network (advocates, DHS educational specialists, etc.):

To attend our annual July RisforThursday Conversation (statewide meeting/update):

A fun little video on how we got the RisforThursday name:

What It Is Like to be a Foster Kid
Please take time to view this painfully accurate (per RisforThursday students) video 

[ - Alternate link]

Pathways to College

Concurrent enrollment in Oklahoma:; see also individual college/university websites

Cooperative Alliance Programs:

Paying for College

Oklahoma Independent Living (for questions, information, etc.):

Oklahoma Independent Living Tuition Waivers:

Educational Training Voucher (ETV):

Application form for ETV:

Oklahoma’s Promise:

Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship:

Casey Family Services Foster Care to Success:

Contact individual colleges and universities about campus-based dedicated funds for foster alumni
Tutorial for completing the FAFSA (to qualify for Pell Grants, loans, etc.):

Tips for completing the FAFSA for foster youth:

Application form for FAFSA

From Foster Care to College: Facilitating the Journey
Oklahoma School Counseling Association Annual Conference 2014

Special thanks to Dr. Kearney for her tireless efforts on behalf of Oklahoma's foster alumni through creation of and expansion of the RisforThursday network.

kerrikearney, Oklahoma State University,
& the RisforThursday statewide network

Personal communication 11-12-14

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tulsa's KSQ Contributes to Education

"A Best Firm to Work For"– ZweigWhite

We are excited that Tulsa Regional Chamber's Kuma Browne, program manager for education and workforce, connected us with KSQ Architects, which has offices in New York, North Carolina, Texas Oklahoma, and Colorado. The Oklahoma and New York locations are the only KSQ offices currently active with mentoring efforts. 

The ACE Mentor Program is highly regarded by the New York staff. Not only is the staff focused and committed on K-12 design and supporting K-12 students, but its ACE Mentor Program uniquely involves multiple professional construction disciplines and employees of various levels to work together with students through ALL phases of a design build. To learn more about the ACE Mentor Program, see

Although Oklahoma does not have an official ACE Program affiliate, the Tulsa KSQ office adapts and applies the ACE Mentor Program's best practices plus much innovation in K-12 efforts and outreach as a member of Tulsa's outstanding Partners in Education (PIE) program. 

Click on the links below for photos and entertaining descriptions of the activities from KSQ's online publication.  

KSQ's Oklahoma office in the past year has:
  • Hosted a STEM program at KSQ offices for students at Lee Elementary 
  • A staff member working with students as part of U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Classroom program

KSQ in the future will
  • Participate in a Lego program in support of STEM education with 4th & 5th graders at Eisenhower International School

Holly Beal, communications coordinator, adds:
About five architects in KSQ's Tulsa office speak native/fluent Spanish, and we have found, especially with the women architects, that they have the unique ability to greatly inspire young ESL students in local K-12 schools. For the upcoming Eisenhower event, a female architect will lead the Lego STEM project entirely in Spanish. 
Thanks to Holly Beal for filling in the gaps about her company's K-12 outreach in Tulsa.

Personal communication, 11-12-14

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Etiquette Resource from Esquire

Esquire Things a Man Should

 Know About Handshakes, 

White Lies and Which Fork 

Goes Where: Easy Business 

Etiquette for Complicated 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Commitment in Mentoring Relationships

More research from the Chronicle of Evidence-based Mentoring...

By  March 24, 2014

New study shows important pathway to mentor commitment

Gettings, P.E. & Wilson, S.R. (2014). Examining commitment and relational maintenance in formal youth mentoring relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1-27, DOI: 10.1177/0265407514522145.
summarized by UMass Boston doctoral student, Stella Kanchewa, M.A.
Previous studies (e.g., Grossman et al. 2012; Grossman & Rhodes, 2002) have established the formation of an enduring relationship as one of the key ingredients of mentoring. Recent studies have focused on what relational factors influence whether the relationship endures long enough for subsequent positive outcomes to unfold. Using an investment model framework, this study explores how mentoring relationships form and persist, particularly focusing on factors that can predict mentors’ commitment to the relationship, and how mentors exhibit and communicate this commitment within the relationship.
The study included 145 mentors from four mentoring programs with a range of structures (e.g., school-based, community-based). On average, mentors were about 30 years old and had been in a relationship with their mentees for about 18 months (matches ranged from 1 month to 9 years in duration).
Mentors completed surveys with the following measures, most of which were adapted from investment model in order to better fit distinct features of youth mentoring relationships:
  • Commitment: defined as “an individual’s intention to sustain and remain psychologically attached to a relationship”, and measured with statements such as “I want our relationship to last as long as possible.”
    • Satisfaction: positive or negative feelings about the relationship based on mentors’ sense of the benefits derived from the relationship (e.g., “my mentoring relationship makes me happy”).
    • Quality of alternatives: assessment of alternative relationships or options (e.g., a match with another mentee, participation in a different volunteer activity).
    • Investment: defined as “resources that individuals gain from being in a relationship that would be lost if the relationship ended”, measured with statements such as “compared to other mentors I know, I have invested a great deal in my relationship with my mentee.”
    • Relational maintenance strategies: Mentors’ efforts to maintain the relationship, even through challenges.
      • Assurance current: “the kind of things a mentor can say or do that let the mentee know how he/she currently feels about his/her mentoring relationship.”
      • Positivity and conflict management: “the ways that mentors can cultivate an upbeat, healthy relationship with a mentee.”
      • Social networks: A match’s common/shared social affiliations (e.g., with program staff, etc.).
      • Advice:  Ways mentors assist mentees with problem-solving and decision-making.
      • Assurance future: mentor’s consideration of the future of the relationship.
      • Stay/leave behavior: Measured 7 months after the first survey, assessing the status of the mentoring relationship (e.g., whether mentors were still meeting with their mentees, if so how frequently they met).
Generally, mentors reported being highly satisfied and committed, and moderately invested in their relationships with low levels of perceived alternatives. In addition, above and beyond the influence of mentor’s age, education and the length of the relationship, the following was found:
  • Mentors reported greater commitment in relationships that were more satisfying, in which they had made greater investments and perceived fewer alternatives.
  • Among the three, investment in the relationship was the strongest predictor of commitment.
  • Mentors with greater commitment assured their mentees about both the current and future state of their relationship, and maintained positivity (e.g., optimism, use of conflict management skills) within the relationship.
  • The association between mentors’ investment in the relationship and subsequent use of interpersonal strategies to maintain the relationship was fully (conflict management/positivity) and partially (assurance current and future) explained by their level of commitment.
  • The association between mentors’ satisfaction with the relationship and subsequent use of relational strategies to maintain the relationship was fully (assurance future) and partially (positivity/conflict management) explained by their level of commitment.
  • The association between mentors’ perceived alternatives and subsequent use of relational strategies to maintain the relationship was fully (positivity/conflict management and assurance future) explained by their level of commitment.
  • Mentors’ commitment and use of relationship maintenance strategies significantly predicted whether mentors choose to stay in or leave the relationship with their mentee, while the length of the relationship was not a significant predictor.
Conclusions and Implications: 
In this study, mentors’ sense of investment in the relationship with their mentee was the strongest predictor of commitmentCommitment in turn explained the association between mentors’ investment, satisfaction and perceived alternatives, and relational efforts to maintain the relationship with their mentee. In addition, commitment also predicted whether the relationship endured or terminated. This suggests that investment (e.g., time, energy, resources) and commitment are key ingredients in mentoring relationship endurance and maintenance.
The study’s findings, if replicated, have implications for youth mentoring, specifically the importance of a mentor’s commitment to the match. Beyond committing to program stipulated minimum time obligation (e.g., one year), programs can assess the manner in which a mentor conveys and communicates his/her commitment within the match. Knowing and being assured of their mentor’s commitment to the relationship through maintenance behaviors may be particularly important for youth who have experienced past relational challenges (e.g., interrupted relationships, separation, rejection, etc.).  The authors note, “A mentor’s ability to communicate her commitment to the mentee and/or the mentoring relationship by enacting maintenance behaviors may distinguish high-quality relationships from others.” Programs could support mentors who might struggle with this type of communication, and also provide more opportunities for both mentors and mentees to acknowledge and express the importance of the relationship.
A question that remains is how do programs foster and support investment, which seems to be important for long-term commitment? The authors pose, “…what are relational and/or programmatic elements that foster a deep sense of investment for mentors?” For instance, it might be that emphasizing and supporting deep-level similarities such as interests, particularly in the initial phases of a relationship, may foster a sense of closeness that encourages both individuals to invest in the relationship. Future research can further extend the findings from this study and contribute to our understanding of factors that foster investment and other interpersonal processes in mentoring relationships. 
Ret. 11-5-14

Friday, November 7, 2014

TEEM Reentry Model Excerpt

TEEM has an effective reentry program model. Here is an excerpt from its November 2014 newsletter. 

Understanding TEEM's Service Model:
Evidence Based Reentry Curriculum

(left to right, Instructor Aaron Cosar and Instructor/Job Placement Coordinator Becca Barsetti)

TEEM holistically prepares participants for self-sufficiency by offering various courses. With a curriculum that includes over 14 classes, TEEM aims to remove various barriers of incarceration as participants transition back into the community.

Common reentry obstacles facing incarcerated individuals include access to employment, life skills, education and basic resources and needs. TEEM aims to offset these barriers by offering a wide variety of services. Participants have the option to obtain their GED at TEEM. Students enrolled in TEEM’s GED course receive instruction in all six subjects required for the test: Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, Math and Written Easy.

Because 95 percent of TEEM’s participants are parents, an interactive parenting curriculum specifically designed for men with children, known as On My Shoulders is available in-house. Another highly populated course offered at TEEM is the Oklahoma Health and Health Administration Training Program. This course provides training for workers and employers of the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces.

TEEM will continue to expand current curriculum through a new venture with the University of Central Oklahoma. University students will participate in a semester long project to develop curriculum based on the evolving needs of participants.     

Other November newsletter articles:     
"TEEM Welcomes Participants Home for the Holidays" discusses upcoming holiday fellowship and activities sponsored by Tapstone Energy and TriCorp Security.  
"TEEM Partners with University of Oklahoma for New Volunteer Project"

"Message from Director [Kris] Steele: Everyone Deserves a Second Chance" 

Read more about the TEEM model at

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mentor Relationship Quality as a Predictor...

More research posted in the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring

By  March 4, 2014

Mentor relationship quality predicts the quality of other important relationships

Thomson, N., & Z and, D. (2010). Mentees’ perceptions of their interpersonal relationships: The role of  the mentor-youth bond.Youth Society, 41, 434-447.
Mentor relationship quality as a predictor of other important relationships
A primary way in which mentors influence mentees is by altering the youths’ view of their own interpersonal relationships  It is believed that quality of the mentoring relationship may play an important factor in this reworking of youths’ perceptions, however, there has yet to be a direct examination of the role that the quality of the mentee-mentor relationship plays in this mechanism of change. Therefore, Thomson and Zand designed the current study to see if a mentee’s view of relationship quality with his or her mentor is able to predict specific relationship-based outcomes.
The current study examined 205 youth and mentor relationships from Project: Youth Connect (PYC), which aims to prevent, reduce, and delay substance abuse among at-risk youth (students identified as economically disadvantaged and/or having academic issues). Mentors were trained on effective relationships, strategies for working with at-risk youth, substance abuse issues, as well as developing personal competencies. Attempts were made to match youth and mentors based on same-sex and same-race; the pairs met for at least 2 hours per week and engaged in activities with the following content:
  • alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention
  • academic support; tutoring
  • life skills (i.e. goal setting)
  • positive recreational activities (i.e. movies)
  • cultural enhancement (i.e. community events)
Youth completed the Mentoring- Youth Alliance Scale (MYAS) to assess mentoring relationship quality at 8-month and 16-month follow up; the scale focuses the relational processes of authenticity, empathy, and companionship that have been found to be characteristic of successful mentoring relationships (Spencer, 2006).  They also completed measures on their perception of their own attachment to their primary caregiver, and their friendship with other adults.
The study demonstrated that the quality of mentoring relationship predicted the following:
  • Current Attachment to parents (at 8-months but not at 16-months)
  • Youths’ self-disclosure to adults (at both 8 & 16-months)
  • Youths’ friendships with adults(at both 8 & 16-months)
    • interestingly, younger youth reported better friendships with adults than older yout
This study moved beyond the limits of comparing mentored versus non-mentored youth by offering a direct investigation of mentor-youth relationship quality and how that can improve youths’ other interpersonal relationships. Overall, the results show that the quality of the mentoring relationship after an 8-month period is able to predict a variety of other important relationship-based outcomes.
These findings underscore the importance of developing high quality mentor-mentee relationships; specifically relationships that are viewed by the youth as authentic, empathetic, and offer companionship. Accordingly, future efforts to train mentors should focus on these three relational processes in order to help improve other important relationships in the lives of their mentees.
Summarized by UMB clinical psychology doctoral student Laura Yoviene. 
Ret. 11-5-14

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TEEM, Mentor Appreciation & Awareness

When Jenna McCullock, mentor coordinator of The Education & Employment Ministry (TEEM) reported new mentor numbers for the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge, she attributed the new mentors to an event.

TEEM uses research-based programming with lots of love and accountability to guide inmates from eighteen years old and older as they transition to build strong families and create positive futures. Mentoring is a key element of the program. 

TEEM Honors Mentors and Mentees during Mentor Appreciation and Awareness Event

Oklahoma City, OK—It was the perfect evening to be on the rooftop of Plenty Mercantile. The September air was filled with laughter, a cool Oklahoma breeze and the smell of Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs. The downtown Oklahoma City skyline provided a scenic backdrop as attendees shared stories of hope, restoration and friendship. On September 23, TEEM honored participants in its mentor program—an initiative designed to positively influence individuals impacted by generational cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma—and encouraged attendees to provide a hand-up to individuals reentering the Oklahoma City community.

Speaker: Patrick Raglow,
executive director of Catholic Charities 

The event honored current mentors and encouraged the community to join TEEM’s mentor program. One of TEEM’s primary organizational goals is to change the stereotypes commonly attached to formerly incarcerated individuals. Six months prior to their release from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the nonprofit aims to appropriately match each TEEM participant with an active mentor.

After a greeting from TEEM staff, attendees viewed a video produced by OKC Good featuring various mentor and mentee stories. They then witnessed a Q&A session between mentor Terry Dyke and mentee Dawan Brooks. After examining obvious differences, Terry and Dawan concentrated on their similarities and highlighted how the unlikely duo have formed a brotherly bond.

“If their goal was to honor TEEM mentors, I think that TEEM’s staff has truly accomplished that,” Dyke said. “I’ve never felt more appreciated in my life.”

Patrick Raglow, a retired U.S. Air Force Cornel and current Executive Director of Catholic Charities, reminded participants at the event that time is valuable. Raglow delivered a message that concentrated on the importance of doing the best with the 24 hours everyone is given each day.

Follow Raglow’s message, TEEM’s Mentor Coordinator Jenna McCullock recounted the power of encouragement in a recent volunteer experience at the Redman Triathlon and offered potential mentors a chance to play an active role by supporting participants in the marathon of life.

“Here at TEEM, we have the opportunity to cheer these men and women on,” McCullock said. “We are able to build relationships and support them as they are transitioning.”

Mentor and mentee
TEEM is an interfaith, 501(c) 3, nonprofit that exists to break cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma through education, character development and work readiness training. With a service model incorporating evidence-based curriculum, one-on-one mentoring, effective case management, occupational skills training, social services assistance and job placement services, TEEM aims to reduce recidivism rates, strengthen families and increase public safety. Approximately 8,400 inmates are released from Oklahoma’s prisons each year. Of this number, 24 percent will recidivate within 3 years of release. TEEM’s holistic approach works to change this trend by providing comprehensive reentry services to individuals transitioning out of incarceration. 

by Lance Evans, TEEM communications coordinator

For further information on TEEM’s mentor program, please contact Jenna McCullock at 405-235-5671 or via email at 

For more information about TEEM, please visit or contact Anna Geary at