Coaching for Change is an innovative program that recruits college students to serve as mentors, role models, and friends to middle school students in the Taunton, Fall River, and Attleboro area. The results have been nothing short of amazing; students involved in the program have shown significant improvements in school attendance, academic performance, and social behavior. Many of the relationships that have formed between the college students and their mentees have extended well beyond their time spent in school and according to Mauquis Taylor, Founder and CEO of C4C, that is largely because both the mentor and the mentee benefit from the match.
The benefits to the mentee are obvious: the college students create an ecosystem of caring adults who give middle school students a safe space to explore, grow, and develop meaningful relationships. And in addition to the psychic benefits the college students get from working with young people, they also develop transferable professional skills like coaching, empathy, problem-solving, and mediation.
Diversity is key to the success of this program, said Marquis. “It is important that the mentors look like the students they are working with and have similar backgrounds/shared experiences.” The advantages of this are two-fold: Mentees are better able to see themselves attending and succeeding in college after getting to know their mentors; and by having mentors gain experience in school support, summer school, and after-school activities, C4C also creates a talent pipeline for schools and the district. “We want our mentors to be exposed to and pursue jobs in the school district, ranging from teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, technology support and much more,” said Marquis.
For Marquis, Coaching for Change is the realization of a pledge made nearly two decades ago when he arrived on the Stonehill College campus from South Central LA in 2002. He recalls feeling like he was stepping into an entirely different world. Having left behind his West Coast community, family, and friends to attend a primarily white college in New England where he had limited access to support networks or social capital, Marquis vowed that if he survived this four year experiment, he would make sure other students like him would be better prepared for college.
Marquis made good on that promise and founded Coaching for Change in 2010. He believes the secret to recruiting volunteers to serve as mentors is to be clear about the benefits. He suggests making an “Experience Map” to share with prospective volunteers and then follow up with them to make sure they are satisfied with the experience.
Marquis has now set his sights on expanding C4C to other geographic areas in MA and is hoping to partner with middle schools in Lawrence, Lynn and Methuen. For more information on C4C or to volunteer, visit their website https://www.c4cinc.org or email Marquis at firstname.lastname@example.org.