The Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation of Portland, Maine, has named Chewonki to be one of eight youth development organizations that will share a $4.8-million grant. We are excited to use our portion of this award to establish the Chewonki Waypoint program.
The goal of the seven-year project is to create a comprehensive mentoring-based pilot program for middle-school and high-school students from eight school districts and 39 communities in rural parts of Maine, and to inspire and support them as they become young adults.
Chewonki will partner with Maine Regional School Unit (RSU) 1 (Bath, Phippsburg, and Woolwich) to create a multi-year relationship that will draw on Chewonki educational practices and facilities. Outdoor learning, ongoing mentorship, civic responsibility, an expanding worldview, and preparation for life after high school are among the principles that will guide Chewonki’s work with RSU 1.
RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel is preparing for the launch of the program in his schools. “We chose to participate because we see the importance of mentoring,” he says. “Research shows that youth who have sustained, high-quality mentoring relationships with competent and caring adults do better in school and have a more positive outlook on their futures. We look forward to the focus on raising aspirations.”
Keith Crowley, associate director of school programs at Chewonki, says he is “extremely excited about the opportunity to explore new ways to work effectively with young Mainers as they move from middle school to high school, an important transition in their lives. By committing to this effort for six years, we hope to spark real, lasting change.”
This summer, each of the eight partner organizations will send a leader to a 12-week session at the Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development, a new venture of Trekkers, an outdoor-based mentoring program based in Thomaston, Maine. Meredith Lynt, director of the institute, says, “We are thrilled to pilot the Trekkers Training Institute for Youth Development and work with partners like Chewonki as part of the Lerner Foundation’s Aspirations Incubator Program. It has been a long-term goal for Trekkers to figure out a way to share the success of our deeply relational and multi-year program principles with others. We hope that by sharing our evidence-based principles and practices with other organizations, more young people are impacted across the state.”