Winning Futures’ students began exploring the benefits of participating in community service this week. Working alongside their mentors, students undertook a variety of projects such as:
As students enter the 11th and 12th grades, they begin to think about the path they will take in life, especially in regards to continuing education and careers. Mentors are especially helpful in encouraging students to explore their options and pursue their goals in this regard. One way in which mentors can assist students in determining their objectives is to share with them about their own careers and the steps they took to get where they are today.
We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have done to you. We also all know that actions speak louder than words, and this activity encourages students to live out the golden rule and to perform kind, positive actions. This activity is also a great way for students to learn positive things about one another.
Goal setting is important; it keeps us on track in regards to accomplishing daily and long-term tasks and motivates us to keep moving forward in our personal development. This activity can be used to demonstrate the importance of staying focused, aiming for goals, and persevering when times get tough.
How prepared are your students to climb the ladder to success? This activity enables students to stop and think about their skills and talents and what areas will need further development to achieve their goals. These are called transferable skills (strengths and talents), things that your students are already good at or that will help propel them to the top of that ladder.
We’re all bound together through the human experience. Regardless of race, age or gender, everyone – if they look hard enough – can find something they share in common with another. This activity demonstrates that fact in a fun and light-hearted manner. It can be used as an ice breaker, to introduce the topic tolerance for discussion and to allow students to share their personal strengths, talents, and interests.
Everyone faces obstacles in their lives, but overcoming them isn’t impossible, just more difficult if they aren’t anticipated. This activity demonstrates the difficulty of overcoming obstacles if you do not plan for them.
Budgeting may not be fun, but it’s essential to leading a responsible lifestyle. More people than ever before are in debt today, whether from overusing credit cards, having student loans, or leading a lifestyle that simply isn’t reasonable in relation to their income. This activity allows students to see just how well they track their spending and manage their money.
There’s an old saying that says, “We can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been.” This is especially true for young adults as they start to explore which educational and career goals they’d like to pursue. Knowing which skills one has – or can develop – will influence our ability to choose the right path for personal and professional success.
Personal beliefs and values keep our lives running smoothly by helping us to make positive choices. If we know what is important to us, it will be easier to set goals and to achieve happiness in life. This is an important lesson that Winning Futures’ curriculum strives to impart to students, particularly through this activity.
Choosing a career path isn’t easy for everyone. Sometimes a student’s passion for a subject clearly sets them down the road to becoming a doctor or a teacher for example, but for some identifying what type of work they ultimately want to do is an ambiguous task.
A great way to have mentees and students take ownership of their talents and strengths and to explore their values is to create a “Strengths and Talents Collage.” This fun and easy activity gives mentors, teachers and students a creative, hands-on activity to take part in collaboratively. All that’s needed is some poster board, scissors, glue sticks, a stack of old magazines and some creativity!
Winning Futures students at Pierce Elementary in Birmingham, Michigan recently took part in a unique activity that demonstrates the importance of – and techniques for – planning. This fun exercise is one you can use in your own classroom or youth group and it aligns nicely with the Winning Futures “Road to Success” goal-setting curriculum and workbook lessons.
Many of Winning Futures’ lessons and activities are designed to help students develop long-term goals. A session held with high school students last week stressed why financial independence and earning potential should be important factors when setting their education and career goals.
Winning Futures students from Warren, Michigan’s Community High School recently visited Oakland University (OU). This annual tour illustrates Winning Futures’ Achieving Success workbook lessons on the benefits of continuing education and career goal-setting.
Winning Futures’ students at Detroit Public School’s Cass Technical High School discussed the importance of attitude with their mentors last week. Groups talked about how developing and projecting a positive attitude can benefit all aspects of their lives, from forming successful personal and professional relationships to increasing general health and well-being.
Encouraging academic success is an important component of Winning Futures’ curriculum, but the development of “Life Skills” is another. Students recently explored this subject by participating in several community service projects.
Just saying the word “test” can cause a student’s stress level to rise. Fortunately, by using some of the techniques Winning Futures’ has developed and outlined in its curriculum and workbooks, students can alleviate this stress, improve their test-taking ability and increase their grades.
Winning Futures and Detroit Public Schools kicked-off a new pilot program at Cass Technical High School on March 1. At the first session, mentors and mentees met each other at a “break the ice session.” Mentors took five minutes to introduce themselves to each group of students to demonstrate the inaugural session’s underlying theme: The importance of synergy – i.e. forming relationships – in a professional setting.
Positive role models are important. They are the individuals who set examples for individuals to observe and pattern positive behaviors from. As people increase positive behaviors, they increase their feelings of self-worth. Patterning behaviors from positive role models can help mentees build on their morals and positive values. These patterns teach the mentees to set attainable goals and provide direction in achieving those goals.
The school tour activity is used in the Winning Futures classroom to make the mentors comfortable at the school and to have the mentoring teams get to know each other. It is a simple activity with a list of seven to 10 locations for each mentoring match to visit throughout the school.
Credit cards may seem like an easy solution to not having money for what you want. Teaching students the reality of credit cards can help them be financially successful in years to come. Below is a lesson used in the Winning Futures classroom to bring reality to getting into debt!
In all aspects of life, we have to be able to work with people around us. A great way to develop team work and get to know your teammates is by using games to create a fun and open forum. In the Winning Futures classroom, teams play a modified version of the game Jenga. Teams are asked to set a goal as to how high they want to build their tower. If the tower falls over, they just start again! But of course the purpose of this game is not just to work together, but to get to know one another. Winning Futures uses a modified version by using AveryLabels8167 to print questions on and place over the game pieces!
Winning Futures didn’t just change my life, it saved it. I went from the brink of dropping out to being all year Honor Roll my senior year. After high school I used the tools and techniques that I was given by the program to not just secure employment, but to thrive in my position. Now I work in New Business Development for an international industrial supplier with strong viable aspirations for the future. I would not have been to get this far in life had it not been for the support of Winning Futures!
Sometimes in a classroom time is limited. But introductions should not be compromised due to the lack of time. A quick and fun for the mentors and mentees to become familiar with all the adult volunteers and for the mentees to become acquainted with their own mentors is to do “Mentor Speed Meetings”
A special thank you goes out to www.IwearYourShirt.com for adopting Winning Futures today! They are doing an entire social media campaign about our workbooks for teens! Check out some of the creative videos on their website. Here are a few direct links:
As much as I gave to my mentees through mentoring, I received even more. When you know you have people who look up to you, you hold yourself to a higher standard. It has always been my belief that a person should lead by example, and the more I encouraged my students to take responsibility for their work, strengthen their relationships with family and friends, and give back to the community, the more I found myself improving those areas in my life as well. The more I listened to them and their concerns, the better listener I became to everyone else around me. As I watched them pursuing their goals with more passion each week, the more passionately I pursued my own.
Before students can start working on a plan for their futures, they first need to evaluate where they are today. All of us have both positive and negative assets. To help improve the negative assets, it is important to first recognize what they are. This can be done through a self-assessment. Some example questions students can answer during a self-assessment are:
In the world of work, we are often called upon to give a “30-second elevator pitch”. This can be a pretty intimidating and uncomfortable for an adult, let alone a teen. Few people enjoy selling themselves in this way, but it is an important skill/tool to have! Winning Futures mentors work with students to help them perfect a 30-second interview pitch.
With the help of mentors, Winning Futures talks to students about the importance of community service and how it helps others as well as the benefits for the individual providing the service (college admittance, resume building, leadership skills, etc.). Teams are required to complete a community service project to benefit a group in society.
Winning Futures encourages its students and mentors to write letters and emails to each other. This helps with bonding and open communication. We teach students about professional communication and the importance of thank you letters and words of appreciation. This communication with an adult can help students prepare for the professional world of work.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, came to our Greg Kelser – Winning Futures basketball camp today. At the camp, Greg Kelser of the Detroit Pistons and his amazing team of coaches work with students 75% of the day on basketball. Then, 25% of the day, students particiapte in the Winning Futures mentoring and goal-setting class to prepare them for ninth grade.
Having guest speakers in a classroom can be a powerful experience for students. It lets them see that successful adults have their own stories about how they overcome obstacles and struggles in their lives to help get them to where they are today. Winning Futures welcomed Dennis Liegghio, Founder of KnowResolve, to speak to students in the program about how important relationship goals have been in his life.
Gregory Kelser has partnered with Winning Futures to help teach students at his basketball camp, not only the fundamentals of basketball, but how goal setting and education can help in the game of life. The Gregory Kelser Basketball Camp is designed to be instructive, interactive, motivational, and FUN! He will also include daily messages emphasizing how extremely important the role education has been in his life and will challenge each child to pursue education with the same determination and energy used for sports.
Sharing with students the significance of developing positive support teams/networks and the importance of having a strong, positive relationship with one’s self is a great lesson. With the help of mentors, Winning Futures teaches students how relationship goals play a key role in the accomplishment of all of goals including their education and career . When students set relationship goals they are helping to build strong networks and support teams. These goals can help them improve relationships with family, teachers, and friends, as well as help in preparing for future relationships in the world of work and beyond.
Winning Futures’ CEO, Kristina Marshall, received the Women Officials’ Network “Wonder Woman Award” for being a distinguished advocate for youth. The Women Official’s Network is an organization of elected officials, present and past, to promote women leaders in the public sector. Past winners include Justice Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and State of Michigan School Board Member Elizabeth Bauer.
Teaching students to go into an interview informed can set them above the competition. Winning Futures has a great track-record for preparing students to succeed. When talking to students about going on interviews, it is helpful to lett them know about the five mistakes that inexperienced interviewees commonly make without realizing how devastating they can be to their chances of landing the job
Teens ofter question what is appropriate to wear to a job interview without feeling too dressed up or too underdressed. At Winning Futures students are taught that when interviewing for a teen non-professional job, dress is a little different from applying for a full-time professional position. Dress should be, at the least, neat and tidy. Business casual is usually appropriate.
At Winning Futures, we have secured $5,000 in private funds to be able to offer our life skills and goal-setting workbooks, handbooks, and training program to organizations focusing on youth development (mentoring programs, schools, and churches). Agencies interested in implementing our evidence-based curriculum into their program just need to fill out a very SHORT application on our website www.WinningFuturesBooks.org.
When one of my shyer mentees asked if she could help decorate my positive affirmations mirror I was overjoyed. All the other girls had left and then she scooted up next to me and we praised the beautiful job she’d done. Working together on something creative made her open up. She said she’d not signed up for the mentoring program but that one of her teachers must have placed her in it. “You know, I’ve never had a mentor before,” she said “but I’m really happy you’re my mentor!” I told her that I was so happy to be there for her and be her mentor; I was so proud of her for telling me just how she felt.
For most people the thought of going on a job interview is not a pleasant one. For students it can be even worse causing a lot of uneasiness and anxiety. Helping them to become prepared and knowing what to expect can help them to relax and gain confidence.
Winning Futures works with high school students to help them prepare for job interviews. This is done in a series of sessions to allow the students time to learn the techniques and practice them with their career coach/mentor. The first interview stage (that should not be over looked) is getting ready.
As a Winning Futures Job Coach at Fitzgerald High School, I was able to see first hand how the program benefited the students. The sessions were excellent and I enjoyed training the students. I believe it helped a lot of them accomplish their work goals. After going over interviewing procedures and role playing interviewing sessions, a few landed jobs!
To help create synergy within a team, Winning Futures asks students and mentors to work together to develop a team sign at their first meeting. On the sign, teams will have their team name, logo, slogan as well as all the group members names. Teams are encouraged to be creative and have fun with it. This brainstorming process is a great team building exercise and helps both the mentors and students to learn about one and other.
Last week, I spoke at the National “Youth At-Risk conference through Georgia Southern University. Educators and youth serving professionals, this is a conference to have on your list for 2012. They had very innovative workshops with realistic activities and programs you can immediately implement. My workshop focused on creating and implementing mentoring programs for agencies who work with at-risk youth. http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/conted/nationalyouthatrisk.html
Winning Futures requires all mentors to write an introduction letter home to mentees’ parents. These letters give parents self assurance that their child is in good hands and lets them know who they will be spending time with. This is also a great way to introduce the mentoring program and create discussion at home about what is happening at school.
Anna Prodin, Community High Mentor, was honored at an intimate award ceremony by The Metro Detroit Mentor Council for National Mentoring Month at the Palace of Auburn Hills. She was one of nine award recipients. Chris Edwards, WXYZ Channel 7 Meteorologist, and Amber Troupe, Mentor Michigan Director, presented her the award.
Our Harper Woods partner program recently took a College tour. The goal was to expose students to the benefits of continuing education and to get students excited about their future education and career goals. This trip, for many of the students, was their first time on a college campus and I think our goal was accomplished!
Winter can be lonely for some teens, especially those who are coping with family issues, a recent loss of a loved one, and whose families are experiencing economic hardship. Something as little as receiving positive encouragement in the mail from someone who cares about them can help build a mentoring relationship.
Ever since I joined the Winning Futures Program, I have learned better values and how to be a better me. More and more students these days are misguided and need someone to help guide them when their parents are not there all the time. They are not pushed to their full potential or there is something holding them back, like family problems.
Recruiting male mentors is one of the biggest challenges programs report. The majority of mentors have always been female while the majority of youth in need of a mentor have been male. Programs have learned that traditional recruitment techniques do not seem to motivate the male audience to become mentors. In order for children to have stable mentors in their lives the methods for recruiting men must change. Mentor Michigan has developed free resources for programs to use!
In our Winning Futures mentoring program, all of our mentees complete a profile sheet that we use to match them with mentors and to provide to the mentor so they get to know the student better. This focuses more on their interests versus a case file. It has the fun things mentors and mentees can use to build a relationship.
Here is a great article on MSN written by Dewey Sadka, Career Expert. This could be a great activity to do with students and mentees. It has them select the color they like the least and then analyzes how they should select and prepare for a career!
In Winning Futures, we learned many things from our mentors. During one of our sessions we worked on interviewing techniques and the importance of having our own personal 30-second elevator pitch. Honestly, I felt nervous and a little uncomfortable talking about myself as we moved around the room practicing our pitch to all the mentors, and was relieved when the session ended. Never thinking that I would actually have a chance to use my pitch, it was less than one week later that I applied it in a job interview and got the job! It is all because of Winning Futures. I walked in, gave the interviewer my 30-second pitch about myself and got the job on the spot! It was so amazing and I’m very happy about it! I am so happy I was in this program, it helped me a lot. After being on the job for only one week, my new boss pulled me aside and told me that I was doing such a great job and that it looked like I would have a future with the company! Thank you again for teaching us how to be professional in the business world.
This week, our alternative high school students had the wonderful opportunity to meet Liz Murray and hear her inspiring story of growing up homeless in the Bronx. At 17 while still homeless, Liz went back to high school, graduated by 19, and earned her degree from Harvard. Lifetime made a movie about her life, “Homeless to Harvard“. Liz released her book “Breaking Night” this month, which just made the New York Times Best Sellers List! Her book can be purchased on online at Amazon.com - click here.
Youth organizations – What type of programming and activities do you do with youth?
This month, we are hosted our annual Inspiring Hope breakfast to recruit mentors, one-time volunteers, board members, and donors. We have board members and other community members be “Table Captains” to bring nine people with them who are not currently involved in Winning Futures. The goal is to introduce the guests to who we are, what we do, and the impact we make. This event is free for guests (we negotiate a plated breakfast for $10 each and solicit businesses to make $500 donations to cover the cost).
If you received $5,000 of funds to use on your students/mentees, what would you spend it on?
For the first time in the 16 years we have been facilitating mentoring and goal setting programs for students, we had a bowling outing for our mentoring teams. Words cannot express how awesome it was! Some of high school students had never bowled before so watching their expressions and excitement was priceless:-)