P O BOX 1256
Wichita, KS 67201
To educate, motivate and empower high school youth from marginalized communities to graduate and choose healthy lifestyle behaviors through mentoring programs & relationships and developing healthy life skills.
Rise Up For Youth founders Lynn & David Gilkey knew first hand the challenges facing young adults in our community. David began Brotherhood (originally Do You Want To Live Or Die?) in 2005 as a mentoring and gang prevention program for high school aged men in Wichita, Kansas. Lynn began Sisterhood (originally CLASS) in 2008 to mentor high school aged women in Wichita. Both programs seek to provide young people with the tools they need to cope with difficulties in life and to succeed in adulthood.
Lynn and David knew their programs should one day be their own organization. In February of 2014, that vision became a reality. Now actively operating in five local high schools, North, East, Southeast, West, and Northwest, Rise Up For Youth continues to develop and grow the efforts of Brotherhood and Sisterhood.
Brotherhood and Sisterhood are our high school programs that aim to help the youth in our community find a clear purpose in life. Rise Up For Youth is a mentoring program that supports high school aged youth in Wichita, Kansas. Our students deal with a range of personal, social, academic and socioeconomic issues. Our mentor team helps examine how they can unlock their full potential to change their world. Alongside our students we develop plans to become accountable adults. Our ultimate goal is “To educate, motivate and encourage youth to graduate high school and choose healthy life style behaviors.”
One in three young people grow up without a mentor; this is considered ‘the mentoring gap.’ Mentoring is one of few prevention and intervention strategies to address multiple risk and protective factors simultaneously. In a recent survey conducted by the Mentor National Association, only 39% of young people identified an adult available to them when feeling stressed or having problems. Due to the pandemic, this mentor number continues to decline for our youth and the results of not having mentors is huge for the community. When our youth are struggling with issues and do not have available adults in their schools due to staffing issues, and families are dealing with other stressors that have been caused by the pandemic, our teens make decisions without input. This can and has resulted in a rise of opioid use among teenagers and a rise in violent crimes committed by teens here in our local Wichita community has increased over the last two years. This year, the RU4Y program has seen first-hand the effects of not having positive social outlets, lack of attention, and feelings of isolation among our marginalized high school students has unfortunately resulted in negative effects on peer-to-peer engagement and their academic success. Additionally, RU4Y has seen, and will continue to see, mental health issues arise for our youth as they cope with adapting to the inconsistent home and school environments as the pandemic continues.
RU4Y particularly focuses on serving high school students who come from marginalized communities, and we are seeing the gap widen for these students as the district navigates the effects of the pandemic. Students are living in a hybrid world with lack of technological resources to be successful in this dichotomous and fluid situation. Having a stable adult or mentor provides consistency and allows access to have an adult available when dealing with stressors. RU4Y has identified the need for our programming to be implemented city-wide to assist as many youths as possible. However, expanding services to additional students brings about the need for additional resources.
Additional data can be found about mentor programs and mentor relationships on the mentoring.org website. The data used for this particular response is from the Power of Relationships (link to the full report below) and internal qualitative data that has been collected over the past seven months from our current student participants.
RU4Y served nearly 500 students last academic school year: 79% were minority students who came from marginalized communities, and 75% were on free or reduced lunch plans. However, 96% of the seniors who were involved with the RU4Y program graduated, and 89% of our Senior students persisted to attend a post-secondary institution, entered the workforce, or military. While RU4Y focuses efforts on ensuring that students persist in school and avoid crime in the Wichita community, there is focus on ensuring empowerment to be productive citizens with plans upon graduating from high school. RU4Y programs also serve students who may not have the financial capital to attend college tours, or the privilege of a social network to experience job shadowing or professional exposure to options available after graduation. The RU4Y Brotherhood and Sisterhood programs are free to students and provide these impactful experiences to bridge the gap that may exist due to their circumstances.
The mentoring relationships with students who actively participate in our programs see a significantly higher rate of graduation in comparison to their peers and empowers them to be productive citizens with plans upon graduating from high school. Additionally, RU4Y sees an increase of student engagement with having the support of a RU4Y mentor to assist students within the schools served. While our team are not trained counselors, they build mentor relationships that allow students to feel compelled to share personal and academic struggles they face, in which we are there to assist them through and connect them to the proper resources needed to succeed.
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