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Orange Chamber of Commerce Kicks-off Joint Mentoring Project

Research shows that one of the best ways to close the achievement gap is to ensure that students have the academic mentoring and support needed to complete homework and prepare for exams.

In an effort to support the academic achievement of the school-aged children of Orange and ensure they have positive professional role models who can encourage them to do well in school, graduate, and pursue higher education and vocational training, the Orange Chamber of Commerce has launched the county’s first academic mentoring program.

The program is in partnership with Chamber members – the Friendly Center and THINK Together (local charities that provide after-school homework help) and the Orange Unified School District.

Friendly Center students, City of Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche and Nancy Ingram showed their support for the program by taking time to enjoy a few books this week.

“I have been active in the Chamber for years, and I’m delighted to have this chance to support the academic success of local children and teens. I hold a master’s degree and understand the importance of education and training. I’m fortunate that my employer sees the value of investing in the local community,” commented Nancy Ingram, Warehouse/Training Manager of National Oilwell Varco, one of the largest employers in Orange.

The Chamber is the first business organization in the county to coordinate an academic mentoring program with the business community. The pilot program kicks off this month in concert with National Mentoring Month. Volunteers from National Oilwell Varco, Orange Police Department, Airpet Balloons, small business owners and local business executives have pledged to give two hours per month from January through May to support student learning.

Seven volunteers have stepped forward to work one-on-one and in small groups with the children who have been identified as needed extra support with English Language Arts, reading, math and science.

If your company has a team of interested volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce can place your corporate team in a location convenient to your place of business. All of the schools and locations are within the city of Orange. Mentors will be working with children and teens in the late afternoons and in the early evening hours during the weekdays only. The volunteer periods range in one-hour time blocks from 3 pm to 8 pm depending on the location.

The Orange Chamber of Commerce core mission is to develop current and future leaders. The academic mentoring program is an invaluable way to develop tomorrow’s workforce, and to strengthen the business community of Orange.

The Chamber has selected academic mentoring as a way for businesses owners and executives to give back to the local community and help local youngsters with reading, math, English Language Arts, and other school subjects.

Created by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR, National Mentoring Month (NMM) celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2011. Learn more at: www.NationalMentoringMonth.org. The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us–individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits–can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure brighter futures for our young people.

Why get involved? Local business leaders, business owners and executives are urged to give of their time to provide academic mentoring to local school-aged children. Academic mentoring is different than tutoring. As an academic mentor, you would encourage students, assist them with homework completion, and read to them. You also would be asked to encourage them to do well in school, graduate and pursue advanced vocational training or a college education.

How can you help? Become a volunteer or assist with promotion of this effort in your company. Encourage your employees to give back and help a child. You can also sponsor for as little as $200. Your sponsorship dollars will assist in supporting mentoring.

What is the time commitment and do I need special skills? To provide the most value to local children and teens, we ask mentors to give up to two hours per month (one hour every other week) in a THINK Together or Friendly Center location in Orange. No special skills are needed - Just an interest in helping children from kindergarten through high school. Volunteers will be placed based on their area of interest and assigned to a location that is most convenient to their place of employment.

What if my company wants to take part? We will work with you to create an opportunity that makes the most of your company’s expertise and will benefit our students. For instance, if your firm is a financial services company or bank, you may want to volunteer to teach a few afternoon sessions on budgeting, saving and personal finances. Corporate volunteer teams are also welcome.

Confirm your interest by contacting the Chamber office at (714) 538-3581 or via email at Info@OrangeChamber.com

Press release provided by the Orange Chamber of Commerce on Feb 9, 2012

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