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Recruitment for undergraduate mentors

We currently have six extraordinary Harvard College undergraduates mentoring our high school Takeoff Space Scholars. They were selected for their knowledge of college admissions, literacy, communication skills and personal rapport – especially the latter as the key to winning over the trust and motivating disadvantaged high-schoolers often caught in routines of endless afterschool work, family responsibilities, and trauma, is the ability to relate to them as big brothers and big sisters.

We will appoint further mentors as needed, drawing from a number of Eastern Massachusetts colleges and universities on a basis of one mentor for two high-school students to give a highly personal as well as intensively engaging and caring experience for our teenagers. Mentors work with young people of exceptional high talent who have shown the resilience to perform to extraordinary standards at school despite disadvantage that often heavily affects their lives.

Our initial program was focused on Fall 2019 only, but subsequent programs are planned for high school Junior Year Spring followed by Senior Year Fall to give more time, allow the inclusion of college visits and enrichment activities, and to offer a more relaxed atmosphere.

Training is provided to undergraduate mentors who follow a systematic approach to helping participants screen colleges and universities according to their interests, qualifications, and financial aid needs. Note is taken of application requirements, including testing, essay writing, and financial reporting, to ensure optimal preparation and organization of applications.

Help is given establishing timetables and deadlines for the high schoolers, completing complex forms, and reviewing and advising on application essay writing.

Undergraduate student mentors also prepare recommendations to be submitted by Takeoff Space, help arrange college visits, and plan enrichment activities. In addition to two hours a week in-person contact time, mentors follow up with monitoring progress and giving encouragement during the rest of the week and participate in college visits as well as one or two all-day workshops at critical times to ensure all elements of college applications are completed to the highest standard.

Mentors research issues related to admissions and prepare a plan for each week’s meeting. Total weekly work is in the range of 3-10 hours and is paid with federal work-study funds, subject to agreement with campus authorities. Applicants for mentor positions should be undergraduates in their first three years of study, have applied to college as US residents, and be eligible for payment through federal work-study. Desired qualifications include: Strong organizational skills, self-discipline, knowledge of college application processes, high standards of literacy, a commitment to helping others and ability to develop empathy, enthusiasm and a sense of humor.

We also consider taking on unpaid volunteers.

Recruitment for local student staff

We will be recruiting university or college students living locally to our high-school participants for part-time employment to support our mentoring activities for gifted disadvantaged youth. Duties will focus on liaison with high-school student participants and their families to ensure that families are aware of the nature and progress of the program and support the academic efforts and aspirations of their children.

Staff will also encourage parents to visit their children’s counselors at their high school and help facilitate such meetings. In addition to offering friendship and encouragement, staff will also monitor family environments and report on any areas of concern. These positions are expected to occupy 8-10 hours weekly.

Desired qualifications include: Strong organizational skills, self-discipline, a commitment to helping others and ability to develop empathy, and show enthusiasm and a sense of humor. Knowledge of the local community and relevant language skills will be appreciated. A background in social work or related fields will be welcome. Given the desire to help families work with their children’s school, we will give preference to graduates of the same high school as our high-school participants.