Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Culture Connect, Inc.

Program Name

Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

The main objectives of the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program are to:

  1. Prevent or reverse downward assimilation--risky behaviors such as falling behind in school, alcohol/drug use, gang involvement, etc.
  2. Develop self-esteem and set goals
  3. Build pride in one's culture and comfort in American culture. 

These objectives support Culture Connect's larger mission of developing cultural fluency among immigrants and the community at large through language services, mentoring, and education.

Program Description

The Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program is a one-on-one mentoring program for school-aged immigrant and refugee youth.  It matches mentors and mentees based on three shared characteristics:

  1. They are Go-Betweeners® themselves, individuals who have the experience of "going between" their home culture and American culture (1st or 2nd generation immigrants or refugees).
  2. They are from a similar cultural background.
  3. They speak the same home language.

By matching mentors and mentees according to these specific criteria, the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program is an effective mentoring option for immigrant and refugee youth.  Issues of acculturation and bi-cultural fluency can be addressed in the matches, in addition to the many other issues faced by youth in the United States.  Additionally, immigrant and refugee youth build positive relationships with adults who have themselves successfully navigated the acculturation process and know what it is like to "go-between" two cultures. 

 

Mentors spend a minimum of four hours per month with their mentees and are encouraged to participate in one cultural activity and one community service activity per quarter.  Some mentors work with sibling groups; all mentors are encouraged to be a resource for the youth, as well as the youth's family. 

 

To assist in the development of the mentees and the mentoring relationship, Culture Connect, Inc. offers mentors and mentees four workshops per year to address the needs and potential needs of the mentees and their families.  Workshop topics include:

  1. Self-Esteem Building Among Youth
  2. Life After High School
  3. Dealing with Domestic Violence
  4. Dealing with Gang Involvement
  5. Healthy Living
  6. Combating Bullying
  7. Financial Literacy
  8. Art Therapy

Resource Materials Used in Program

Culture Connect, Inc. has developed a Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program Manual of Policies and Procedures that guides the program's administration.  It includes materials and guidelines on:

 

  1. Marketing and Recruitment
  2. Screening, the Application Process, and Filing Materials for both mentors and mentees
  3. Orientation and Training for both the mentor and the mentee/his or her family
  4. Matching
  5. Ongoing Support and Supervision
  6. Match Closure
  7. Program Evaluation
  8. Additional Resources

Groups Served by Program

In 2009, over 3,600 refugees were resettled in Georgia, and Metro Atlanta is home to more than half a million immigrants and refugees combined.  Nearly 38,000 Limited English Proficient students are enrolled in Georgia public schools, 38% of whom did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards in 2008 (the highest failing demographic in the state).  Not only do immigrant and refugee youth struggle with the normal challenges of growing up in the U.S., but they often bear the extra burdens of serving as Go-Betweeners® and interpreters for family and friends.  Additionally, there may be limited guidance at home as parents work long hours to support their families.

 

All ethnicities are invited to participate in the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program.  Currently, 50% of matches in the program are Latino, and 50% are from other all other origins and ethnicities.

Program Funding

Ninety-one percent of Culture Connect's operating budget comes from fee-for-service income, which is also the vast majority of funds for the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program.  Culture Connect, Inc. was very fortunate to have the support of Cobb County's Success For All Students to implement the program in its school district. Additionally, in order to help the program grow, Culture Connect was grateful to receive the support of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Chopstix for Charity.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

The Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program is community based, and thus involves a myriad of volunteers throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area who serve as mentors.  Culture Connect, Inc. provides initial and ongoing training to both mentors and mentees.  The program is managed by the Director of Education, Program Manager and a Mentoring Case Manager.

Program Evaluation

Monthly activity reports are required of all mentors, and quarterly surveys are given to mentors, mentees, and mentee's families.  Both monthly check-ins and quarterly surveys are opportunities for Culture Connect, Inc. to learn more about how each match is going, to troubleshoot any issues that arise, and to provide resources to the mentor, mentee, or family according to any needs noted.  Match closure surveys are completed by mentees, which are then compared to their responses prior to matching them with mentors in order to evaluate the mentees' progress. Due to Culture Connect's partnership with Cobb County Success for All Students, all matches in Cobb County were evaluated by Georgia State University evaluation professionals based on academic performance and pre-match/closure surveys. Culture Connect, Inc. modeled some of its evaluation mechanisms after the process Georgia State University utilized.

Program Outcomes

Begun in 2008 and expanded in 2010, the Go-Betweener®Mentoring Program has so far successfully matched 35 mentoring pairs.

 

Below are two recent snapshots into the work of Culture Connect's mentors:  

 

Kathleen was referred the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program in November 2010. She was matched with her mentor, Yanzit in December 2010. When Kathleen first started the mentoring program, she was struggling with her grades, and was engaging in fights at school. She was also having a hard time deciding what she wants to do when she graduates. Since her match with Yanzit, Kathleen's grades have increased significantly. She spends much of her time studying with her mentor. With Yanzit's support and guidance, Kathleen has also decided she wants to go the military when she graduates from high school. Kathleen's behaviors in school have significantly improved. She has reported that while she still has very few issues with other peers, she has not used any illegal substances and not engaged in any physical fights at school. Mom has also seen a major difference in Kathleen. As a result of the mentor/mentee match and the progress made, Kathleen's younger siblings have been referred to the Go-Betweener Mentoring Program and are waiting to be matched.

 

Enrique was referred to the Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program in October 2010. He was matched with his mentor, Gilbert Ramos in November 2011. When Enrique was first referred to the program, he was having significant behavior issues in school, was not getting along with his other siblings and teachers, and was failing most of his classes. Since being matched with Gilbert, Enrique's performance has improved. Enrique has opened up to Gilbert and confided in him, which, according to the family, is very hard for Enrique. Enrique has not had a positive male role model in his life. Having Gilbert around has provided that male role model and stability. Gilbert has spent much of his time teaching Enrique how to become a productive member of society. They have talked about topics ranging from restaurant etiquette to how to approach bullying at school. Gilbert and Enrique also recently attended Culture Connect's Bullying Workshop facilitated by the Anti-Defamation League.  As a pair, they also recently attended StoryCorps where Gilbert reported Enrique was able to open up emotionally and share many stories. Although Enrique still has many things to work on, it has been clear to the family and others around him that having a mentor has been crucial in his adjustment.

 

Below are several quotes from participants indicating the impact of Culture Connect's mentors:

 

"When I met him, he was very shy, knew very little English, and was nervous to practice. Now, he has higher self-esteem; he talks to me and discusses issues with me; I can tell that he trusts me, and open communication is possible and occurring!" -- Go-Betweener® mentor

 

"[My mentee] enjoys school now, and his friends. He passed all of his classes; he’s doing well in school, and he shows me his report cards!" -- Go-Betweener® mentor

 

"This program is very good, and very helpful to those new immigrants and their children, especially for those parents who are very busy." --Parent of Go-Betweener® mentee

 

"He has learned much faster with [his mentor]. It is hard because we work all the time and we cannot help with English, because mine is broken." --Parent of Go-Betweener® mentee

Additional Comments

Program Contact

Alexis Dalmat, Executive Director
alexis.dalmat@cultureconnectinc.org  

Ana Soler, BSW, MPH - Director of Education
Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program and Education & Advocacy Programs
ana.soler@cultureconnectinc.org   

Lacell Joseph, LPC NCC - Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program Manager lacell.joseph@cultureconnectinc.org   

Rosa Dunkley - Go-Betweener® Mentoring Case Manager rosa.dunkley@cultureconnectinc.org

Program Dates

The Go-Betweener® Mentoring Program began in 2008 and is still operating as of February 2014.