Connecting Youth to Mentoring, Tutoring, and Training
This blog post was written by Emerging Leaders 365 donor Tina Vivio-Software Engineer at The Climate Corporation
I joined the United Way’s Emerging Leaders 365 program back in December because I felt a profound sense of responsibility for giving back to my community amid 2020’s unprecedented global health crisis and economic downturn. I feel very fortunate that I have not had to worry about the possibility of losing my home, my job, or my health in the past year, and I recognize that my own socioeconomic privilege has largely shielded me from the worst consequences of this pandemic. United Way’s three-pronged approach of tackling poverty, keeping people in their homes, and helping students graduate resonates deeply with me, and feels especially important given the events of the last 12 months and their disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations here in King County.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about my experience as an Emerging Leader 365 is the opportunity to come together with other civically engaged young professionals in my community to participate in a variety of hands-on volunteer efforts. These opportunities have been great ways to expand my network, learn more deeply about the issues most impacting my neighbors, and supplement my financial giving with active community service.
Most recently, I participated in a Connect for Good challenge, which is a unique experience that combines an in-depth examination of one of United Way’s focus areas, peer-to-peer fundraising, and a hands-on volunteer project over the course of multiple sessions. This one was centered on United Way’s Reconnecting Youth program, which supports young people in King County who are not in school and who are not stably employed. The program strives to connect these youth to mentorship, tutoring, and training so that they can make plans for their futures and meet their educational and professional goals.
It was eye-opening to learn about some of the historical and cultural reasons for racial disparities among BIPOC students in educational outcomes. High school graduation rates in Washington are lower for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, a result of bias and differential treatment in the educational system, a lack of diverse teachers, and racial economic inequality.
However, learning about organizations like Rainier Athletes, that are empowering at-risk youth in our community to succeed, gave me hope. The service portion of this Connect for Good opportunity was a curriculum-building exercise in support of Rainier Athletes’s mentorship program, which pairs students with trusted adult mentors who commit to being consistent, compassionate, and collaborative advocates for these young folks as they navigate their educational journeys. I was able to work with two other volunteers to put together a curriculum around resume writing for mentors to work through with their mentees. It was a cool way to pass on our learnings as young professionals to youth who might not otherwise have access to career readiness courses or programs.
All in all, this Connect for Good experience was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Emerging Leader 365 volunteers, learn about United Way’s work addressing barriers to education, and apply my own skills and expertise towards an impactful volunteer effort. I look forward to continuing to engage in these types of experiences throughout my first year as an Emerging Leader 365 donor!