In Washington DC, the citywide graduation dropout rate in 2014 was 61%. The two public high schools in Ward 8, Ballou high school and Anacostia high school, had a graduation rate of 50% and 38% in 2014 respectively. While Howard University’s freshman retention rate is at 81%, only 63% graduate within 3-6 years. Through Aya, we are working to combat both the high school and college dropout rate while fostering positive relationships through mentorship and career training.
Over the course of the program, college students are paired with professional mentors who support them throughout the academic semester and assist them as they pursue jobs and internships. High school students are paired with mentors that college mentors who support them academically and provide guidance about college admission and enrollment. Both professional and college mentors are required to attend “Mentor Mixers,” communicate with their mentees regularly, and support their mentees over the course of the program and thereafter. Once the program is over, professional mentors continue to support college students by serving as references, providing letters of recommendation and/or hiring them as interns or employees for at least two job opportunities. Likewise, college students continue to provide support to high school students by helping them develop college essays and assisting with SAT/ACT studying and also calling to check in with them throughout the summer.
Research confirms that mentoring leads to success. It promotes career readiness, combats high school and college dropout, and enhances personal development. For high school students, research has shown that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class. They also have a better chance of going on to higher education. For college students, mentorship has been known to assist young people with networking, finding internships, introducing them to professional resources, and locate job possibilities.