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Mentors Bring 'Big Changes' To Kids At Stamford Public Education Foundation

The Stamford Public Education Foundation non-profit provided mentors for almost 750 students in the city's public schools last year.
The Stamford Public Education Foundation non-profit provided mentors for almost 750 students in the city's public schools last year. Photo Credit: SPEF Facebook page

STAMFORD, Conn. — The Stamford Education Foundation — a nonprofit that reached 734 of the city's public school students last year through its mentoring programs — is enjoying bright new offices at Columbus Park, 247 Main St.

"It's a great space, bright and airy with room to spread out," said Lynn Tusa, the foundation's director of development.

She talked to Daily Voice about the mentorship program in which volunteers work either one-on-one or two-to-one with students in Stamford's elementary, middle and high schools. The volunteer mentors include high school and college students as well as members of the corporate world and the community.

"For the younger students, typically we pair two-to-one in a classroom setting, and middle and high school students usually work with one or two mentors during specials or lunch periods," said Tusa.

The volunteer mentors, who include students from Stamford High School and the University of Connecticut at Stamford, meet their young mentees during the school day. There's always a Stamford Education Foundation staff member on site to support them, she added.

Student selection is not a formal process. Guidance counselors, teachers, parents, social workers, and sometimes the kids themselves make referrals.

"Kids can self-select. We've had kids in the program who even selected a friend to get a mentor," said Tusa. "We see big changes with kids who have one-on-one help. Some don't have role models or someone to talk to."

She said that when the student mentors volunteer, they usually work with the younger students in elementary and middle school.

Everyone benefits from the program, Tusa said. "It's so good to see older kids working with children."

The Stamford Public Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization and is a part of a national network of local education foundations that supports a high-quality public education experience for all students.

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