Sisters Circle

Mentoring (and Learning from) Middle School Girls Comes Full Circle

Walking alongside middle school girls of color during this critical developmental juncture not only heightens their hope for a promising future but helps them realize the steps to get there – even when the odds are stacked against them. With a multi-year grant from All Points North Foundation, Sisters Circle is amping up its middle school initiatives to strengthen mentor-mentee bonds, introduce underserved youth to new experiences, inspire mutual learning and help young women imagine their futures.

Grounded on foundational social-emotional skills, mentors build a trusted relationship for the mentee to share information, model positive behaviors, welcome new experiences, and practice life skills. Modeled after the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework, this approach expands possibilities that expose students to new ideas, connections, and places. It also expresses care that young women matter, challenges them to keep growing, shares power and voice, and provides support to achieve goals.

By coincidence or design, the framework speaks to the young women that Sisters Circle surveys each year. Their voices yearn for broadening life experiences, creating a safe space for sharing, seeking help to prepare for the future from high school to post-secondary planning and fulfilling lifelong goals and dreams.

In collaboration with Baltimore County and City schools, Sisters Circle receives student referrals and meticulously reviews candidates, meets with parents/guardians, learns about their interests and goals, matches mentee candidates with mentors, and offers summer camperships, job and volunteer opportunities.

To prepare new mentors, Sisters Circle pairs prospective students with seasoned mentors, hosts an orientation and online training, and organizes group activities designed to nurture relationships. Local businesses and nonprofit organizations provide resources to enhance the experience of students who otherwise could not afford it. Mentors range in age from 25 to 85 with over half being women of color. Career backgrounds are diverse from healthcare to technology but they share a commitment to make a difference in the lives of young women and the community. At the same time, mentors not only fill the role of teacher but also that of learner, inspiring and being inspired – coming full Sisters Circle.

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Photo credit: Sisters Circle

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All Points North Foundation provides grants for U.S.-based projects and initiatives that support our priorities: improving public middle school education and teacher training, and implementing effective solar programs and/or projects.

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