WAWS Evaluation Finding #5: "I feel like a better person. I feel so free."

An image of our WAWS scholar Paulina (right) hugging her friend, who presented Paulina’s reward at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

An image of our WAWS scholar Paulina (right) hugging her friend, who presented Paulina’s reward at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

To continually provide meaningful and evaluation-driven programming, Words Alive commenced on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Throughout this process, we identified eight findings and then brainstormed ways we could update and improve the program based on these findings. Here is the fifth finding!

“I feel like a better person. I feel so free.” 

While the intended impacts of the program included relationship-building with others, one surprising result discovered during this study was participants’ changing relationship with themselves.

Through their scholarship application essays and interviews for this study, most, if not all, of the students discussed the trauma in their lives. It’s no secret that an unstable childhood can contribute to unhealthy personal relationships in adulthood. Many of the students revealed abusive romantic partners, the inability to enforce boundaries with their family members and feelings of isolation from peers who couldn’t relate.

However, through a consistent relationship with their mentor as described in Finding #3 and the support of their WAWS cohort as described in Finding #6, students developed and employed healthy relationship skills with others. According to this study, 85% of scholars surveyed said they felt more confident in putting healthy relationship skills into action. For one scholar, healthy relationship skills meant establishing and exercising new boundaries: “I’ve learned to say no to certain people.”

This new-found confidence coupled with realizing the value of healthy relationships, networking, community engagement and mentorship led to many students and their mentors saying that the students simply found themselves much more open to communication after participating in the program.

One mentor described this growth in her mentee as: “She does a good job at assessing people and choosing to be with people who are good examples. She has become very open with me.”

Perhaps even more impactful, however, was the growth scholars recognized within themselves. Many students initially felt trapped by the labels placed on them by society: at-risk, homeless, teen parent, juvenile delinquent. Before their participation in the program, many said they never thought they could go to college. In survey responses, they described themselves as “troubled, scared, lazy, unmotivated, unprepared and unfocused” before participating in the program.

But after at least a year in the program, they became scholars – describing themselves instead with more positive terms such as “responsible, confident, passionate, ready and focused.”


In-line with these terms alluding to a new sense of agency, scholars described taking action:

“I believe that I’m smart enough to accomplish my goals. I believe I’m capable of taking actions to make changes, that I can identify those actions, and make the changes. Most importantly, I believe in myself, that I’m the only person who can do this. I’ve learned to identify what the challenges are and be specific as you can be to make that challenge a goal, to make it a positive.” – Scholar, age 25

“I take action, go out and get the things that are beneficial for me instead of waiting for them to come to me.” – Scholar, age 26

For many program participants, that shift stems from the support of their mentor and Words Alive staff. In interviews with scholars, they said that having someone cheer them on made them not want to give up, helped them realize they could rise above their circumstances and see themselves as more capable.

One scholar said:

“I’ve grown so much. I appreciate hearing the uplifting things [my mentor and Words Alive staff] say. It helps me remember my accomplishments and not just my struggles. I feel like a better person; I feel so free.” – Scholar, age 26

Another scholar shared:

“I’ve learned self-care, self-love and self-respect...with self-love, especially when you have so many obstacles, helps everything else.  Before I didn’t know any better. I’m pushing myself to ask questions and see how much I’ve accomplished. I’m reclaiming my identity as a teen mom, as undocumented. Before, I didn’t love myself, I just saw the labels society threw at me, like screw-up, outlaw, rebel and minority. I didn’t like waking up to that.” – Scholar, age 25

With a redefined, positive perspective of themselves and skills honed to address their circumstances, 100% of students surveyed said the program helped them feel at least moderately more in control of their choices.

To love oneself – to truly feel confident both in and out of one’s skin – is important if one is to break free from the trappings of harmful and limiting environments. That the program scholars develop that confidence in such dramatic ways is remarkable.

 “I’m more positive about everything and learned to appreciate myself more. I wish I had a friend like me.” – Scholar, age 26

Significance

Focused on the expectations and labels placed on them by society, students often say they never imagined they would graduate high school let alone go to college. But as students are repeatedly and genuinely told, “you can do it,” our findings indicate they begin to believe it. This confidence translates to several other attributes, such as motivation and resilience, that help drive scholars’ success.

Equally, one’s desire to cultivate new relationships, create a personal goal of helping others, and confidently navigate the world fosters new opportunities. Being able to identify and develop in these two areas and recognize their importance will provide lasting positive impact.

How the PGA Tour Supports More Than 3,000 Nonprofit Organizations

An image of three attendees of the Women’s Day Event stuffing Kindergarten Readiness Backpacks.

An image of three attendees of the Women’s Day Event stuffing Kindergarten Readiness Backpacks.

This past January marked the 52nd year that the Farmers Insurance Open was played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. This annual golf tournament brings in some of the largest golf names and attracts over 100,000 spectators. The PGA tour, its players, and the tournaments support more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations in numerous areas of their communities including youth, military, health, environment, education, and disaster relief. The PGA tour is a unique sporting event in the way that it runs similar to a nonprofit: it relies on volunteer support to run most aspects of the event and it is designed to donate 100% of the proceeds. Up through 2018, the PGA tour has generated $2.65 billion for charity, with that number steadily climbing.

Champions for Youth is the primary charitable program of the Century Club of San Diego, which is the administrative organization behind the Farmers Insurance Open. This year, Words Alive was one of the 10 chosen organizations in San Diego to participate in the Champions for Youth program. This means that not only did we embark on our most successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to date (our Board, staff, and volunteers collectively raised over $20,000!), we also had the opportunity to earn bonus funds from a pool of $260,000. In addition, we were able to participate in the Women’s Day Event, Community Day, and we hosted a special Read Aloud session with students from the Doris Miller Elementary School. Participating in these events allowed us to reach out to and interact with members of the community that we haven’t previously been able to.

An image of one of our Read Aloud students from Doris Day Elementary holding up a piece of paper that says “love.”

An image of one of our Read Aloud students from Doris Day Elementary holding up a piece of paper that says “love.”

For the Women’s Day Event, Farmers Insurance employees assisted us in putting together 1,000 Kindergarten Readiness backpacks for the children in our Family Literacy Program. These backpacks included the necessary school supplies for our littlest learners as they enter kindergarten, as well as a brand new book to start building the children’s home library. The event also brought together women in leadership positions across different sectors to discuss the importance of mentorship and their success.

Thanks to our community of supporters and the staff and volunteers who helped us fundraise, Words Alive was able to exceed our goal of raising $60,000. These generous donations will allow us to serve more than 300 students and families this year. Your belief and dedication to building communities who value reading is what enables us to continue giving back to the children and families of San Diego.

If you would like to learn more about Words Alive or keep your eye out for any other upcoming fundraisers, click here.

Board Spotlight: Rick Seidenwurm

Rick Seidenwurm working with an Adolescent Book Group student at the Monarch School.

Rick Seidenwurm working with an Adolescent Book Group student at the Monarch School.

Meet Rick!

Rick Seidenwurm has been a part of Words Alive for the past 10 years in the classroom and leadership. He joined the board in 2013 and served as Treasurer, Vice Chair, and Chair. Rick is integral to Words Alive's growth. Rick has also been an Adolescent Book Group volunteer for the past 10 years, impacting some of San Diego's most vulnerable youth with engaging book discussions and creative writing sessions.

Rick is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia Law School. In a rare burst of sanity, he left New York and moved to San Diego in 1973. He is a founder and former managing partner of Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith, one of San Diego's top law firms. Rick also served as a commercial arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He is now fully retired.

Rick has served on the nonprofit boards of Wayword, Inc., San Diego Writers, Ink, Business Counsel and Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.  He also does volunteer teaching at Del Sur Elementary School and is a mentor with the Access Youth program.

Most recently, Rick raised over $5,500 for the Words Alive Champions for Youth campaign, making him our most successful fundraiser of the campaign. By directly reaching out to his community, and sharing his Words Alive story, Rick was able to grow his impact!

I’ve been doing this for so long that most of my friends and relatives already know about how passionate I am about Words Alive. All I had to do was write an email or two and invite them to give. They know that this is what I care about, and over half of the people I emailed gave. Some big, some small, but it was something.
— Rick Seidenwurm

Now, let’s hear more directly from Rick!

How has Words Alive changed the story of your life? 

I became a classroom volunteer for Words Alive as I was phasing into retirement. The experience of interacting with teenagers who were both wonderful and troubled was a revelation to me. I never realized I could inspire these kids to write and that they would trust me to hear their stories. 

When was the first moment you fell in love with reading? 

I don’t have a recollection of that first moment. I can tell you that my mother taught me to recite the Gettysburg Address during toilet training.

What is your favorite book and why? 

So many come to mind. I’d probably say Catch 22 because of the mix of humor and tragedy. Most recent favorites are The Goldfinch and The Gentleman From Moscow, both of which I’ve read twice. 

What made you join the Words Alive board? 

The loyalty to the organization that evolved from my volunteer experience, plus the urgings of my fellow classroom volunteers Kay Gurtin, Cindy Polger, and Brenda Schulman.

What has been your favorite aspect of being a Words Alive board member? 

Seeing our dreams turn to reality. 


Thank you, Rick, for all you’ve done for Words Alive! Learn more about our Board of Directors here!

Annual Report: Read Aloud Program

What happened in our Read Aloud Program in the 2017-2018 school year?

After their Read Aloud session, students read their favorite books in their 2nd grade classroom.

After their Read Aloud session, students read their favorite books in their 2nd grade classroom.

Due to the two previous years’ successes implementing the Read Aloud Program in United Way City Heights Partnership for Children’s Readers in the Heights Program, we were requested this year to become their literacy experts. By training staff members and providing further resources, we created a Read Aloud Program model of delivery that could be used to serve kindergarten to 3rd grade children across seven sites. This partnership, starting in 2016 and initially reaching 40 children in the City Heights neighborhood, is helping to combat the summer slide, developing curiosity, wonder, and a love of reading for over 320 children.

Our work with BASE (Before and After School Education) in Oceanside has been an exciting new venture that has given us the opportunity to expand our program offering, creating 4th and 5th grade curriculum and furthering our impact outside of the school day. Through our partnership with BASE we served approximately 120 K–5th grade children and were able to evaluate the Read Aloud Program with children who have never experienced Words Alive before.

Meet Golden Hill

Read Aloud facilitator Sharon has been reading in Golden Hill Elementary School classrooms since 2015. Throughout her tenure, she has watched the development of many students, from kindergarten on to 2nd and 3rd grade. Students she had read to in the past are now reading books to their own classrooms, families, and to Sharon herself, which truly exemplifies the Read Aloud spirit.

“Thank you Words Alive readers! You make me feel happy and you help us understand the words in the books. You help us read hard chapter books and you teach us cause and effect. Words Alive is here to help us learn to read, and not just give us books. They give us deeper thinking and that helps us in our regular classroom.” —Read Aloud Program Participant

Building Foundational Skills

rap.PNG

The graph above shows that nine out of ten teachers reported that the Read Aloud Program had an impact on expanding students’ knowledge of literacy terms, vocabulary, and concepts of print. Eight out of ten teachers reported the program had an impact on improving fluency and learning phonics.

“The exposure to other adult readers of various backgrounds has been wonderful, seeing people that look like they could be from their family or community showing such a love and excitement for literacy.” —Teacher, Read Aloud Program

Looking Forward

Congressman Scott Peters reads to a K–2 classroom as part of our annual Share Your Love of Reading Campaign.

Congressman Scott Peters reads to a K–2 classroom as part of our annual Share Your Love of Reading Campaign.

While we continue to work with teachers in 103 classrooms across San Diego and Escondido School Districts, we have been excited by the impact of the Read Aloud Program outside of the school day. Summer and after-school programs have proven to be great partners in furthering opportunities for children to be exposed to an exciting world of literature, inspiring curiosity, and widening aspirations. We look forward to building on this model in 2018–19, enabling others to facilitate the Read Aloud Program and reach beyond our volunteer foundations in San Diego.

“The program is awesome! I love that you provide books for my students... many of which have none at home. They cherish the book they are given to keep to read at home. They love it!.” —Teacher, Read Aloud Program

What Are Wordless Books?

By Jennifer Van Pelt

Wordless Books Post.jpg

What Are Wordless Children’s Books and Where Can I Find Them?

Wordless children’s books rely on illustrations to tell the story and allow children to create their own narrative in their head. These books may have no words at all or may have just a few words on each page. Wordless books are commonly found in school and public libraries and can cater to children of all ages in elementary school. Popular examples include The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, and Journey by Aaron Becker.

Why are Wordless Books Important?

Wordless books are important in building  literacy skills and confidence with books. Without a set storyline, there are a lot of different directions and discussions that the book can take the reader on. This allows for a more diverse method of learning. More specific benefits include:

  • It familiarizes children with books. When just starting out on their journey with reading, children need to learn the basics of books: which way to read the book (front to back), what the spine and title page are, where to find the author’s name, etc. Wordless books provide the perfect opportunity to introduce these important aspects of reading to a young child.

  • They allow children to use their imagination. Children can use context clues to infer what will happen next in the story. They are able to make up whole conversations and narratives based on a single page of illustration. The complexity or simplicity of the story is up to them and can easily be guided by additional questions from an adult.

  • The story changes depending on who is reading it. This maintains a child’s interest in reading by never allowing the story to get repetitive. This dynamic aspect of wordless books has the potential to get children excited about all of the various book options available so they can get more creative with their stories!

  • You can read them in any language. Illustrations have no language. This means that reading as a family doesn’t need to be limited by what language is read in the home or what reading level the parents are at. Children create the story, and can do so in the language they feel most comfortable and excited about.

To help drive home the importance and dynamic use of wordless children’s books, we read these in our Family Literacy Program -- which is starting back up soon! This program, which only runs in the spring, focuses on making reading a fun habit for the whole family. Our volunteers and staff work with families to deliver ten hours of parent education over the course of seven weeks. Each workshop includes an information session and skill-building exercises for parents, group story time, and guided activities for parents and children. We continue to do this each year because we have seen promising results and feedback from the session, including a 29% increase in the positive literacy behaviors in the home environment following the workshops.

If you would like to learn more about our Family Literacy Program or how to get involved, click here.

Women's Day

By Susan Arias

An image of our Development Director at the Women’s Day Event with Leesa Eichberger, Sam Santiago, Courtney Conlogue, and Llarisa Abreu.

An image of our Development Director at the Women’s Day Event with Leesa Eichberger, Sam Santiago, Courtney Conlogue, and Llarisa Abreu.

This year, Words Alive was chosen as the Champions for Youth nonprofit organization at the annual Women’s Day Event presented by Farmers Insurance. Farmers Insurance sponsored 500 Kindergarten Readiness Toolkits (backpacks filled with school supplies) for our Family Literacy Program. The 350 participants of Women’s Day volunteered their time to put these toolkits together. I had the privilege of representing Words Alive at this incredible event alongside our Board Chair, Andrea MacDonald. We listened to inspirational stories from women across sectors who have faced challenges as pioneers in their respective fields.

As I reflected on the stories from Sam Santiago, Head of Personal Lines Operations Strategy & PMO at Farmers Insurance, and Lorraine Hutchinson, retired from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, I realized that often in the nonprofit sector we are seen and see ourselves as “less than.”  Less savvy, less educated, less valuable in the grand scheme of things. One of my least favorite pieces of misinformation floating around social media is an image telling people not to donate to certain nonprofits because of how much their CEO makes. I always question why we are expected to do important work with less when we never question the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks and how much their CEO makes.  

falsedonation.jpg

To me, these women in the private and public sector sit on a pedestal high above what I could achieve because I work for a nonprofit. They find innovative ways to ask people to sponsor, invest in, and purchase their products or services. And then I realized, “Hey, that is what I do, but because I am asking for a donation for a charity the value somehow changes.”

After hearing all the panelist’s responses to challenges they have faced in the workplace (the never attainable but always expected “balance” between personal and professional life) I realized that we are not that different. Even women like Jessica Mendoza , two-time Olympic medalist and MLB Analyst for ESPN, and Courtney Conlogue, Professional Surfer and 2018 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing Champion, or Sophie Goldschmidt, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Surf League, wake up every morning and find the motivation that they need to accomplish their goals. They seek out mentors, stay up late at night with sick kids, and face setbacks. Our professional goals are just different.

At Words Alive, we create equitable learning opportunities that empower students and families to become the architects of their own education. My professional goals include ensuring that we have the funding we need to do this work every single day. This may not be as cutting edge as leading the first   and only US based global sports league (and among the first internationally to achieve prize money equality for male and female athletes) but it is still important work.

Words Alive uses reading as a tool to create an environment where participants, volunteers, donors, and community partners come together to develop innovative solutions to educational barriers in the communities we serve. I can now say with confidence that, yes, nonprofit leaders do belong on the stage at events like this and I am so grateful for partners like Farmers Insurance and the Century Club of San Diego for lifting nonprofit organizations up and putting us in the spotlight to share our story.

Left to Right: Susan Arias, Llarisa Abreu, Lorraine Hutchinson, Leesa Eichberger, Courtney Conlogue, Samantha Santiago

Left to Right: Susan Arias, Llarisa Abreu, Lorraine Hutchinson, Leesa Eichberger, Courtney Conlogue, Samantha Santiago

It's National Mentoring Month!

By Jennifer Van Pelt

Our WAWS student Antonise (left) and her mentor Brittany volunteered together for the local humane society.

Our WAWS student Antonise (left) and her mentor Brittany volunteered together for the local humane society.

January is National Mentoring Month, a campaign that celebrates mentoring and the positive effect it has on young lives. The month includes a variety of celebrations including, “I am a Mentor Day”, “International Mentoring Day”, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service”, “National Mentoring Summit Day”, and “#ThankYourMentor Day”. These celebrations are focused on reflecting on the benefits both the mentors and mentees receive in the relationship as well as to share powerful stories about volunteerism. Mentoring.org outlines the three goals of the month-long campaign:

  • Raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms.

  • Recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people.

  • Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring.

Celebrating its 17th year, the campaign has gained support from Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, Harvard, and the NBA, among others.

Benefits of Mentorship

A mentor is more than a support system or a professional counterpart. According to mentorship.com, the following are a few benefits of students having a mentor:

  • Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.

  • In addition to better school attendance and a better chance of going on to higher education, mentored youth maintain better attitudes toward school.

  • Students who meet regularly with their mentors are less likely than their peers to skip school.

  • Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are: 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who do not.

Words Alive Mentorship

Words Alive analyzed results from the mentorships in our Westreich Scholarship program and found that there was a large benefit when mentors and mentees met consistently. Many mentors mentioned that in the beginning of the program they would be stood up on multiple occasions or meetings would be cancelled without explanation. It was up to these mentors set and communicate expectations. For many of our scholars, consistency was not prioritized in their previous relationships, and their Words Alive mentors helped them see the value and importance of honoring their commitments.

We have many more success stories from the WAWS program that we are proud to share. At a recent meetup, our WAWS mentors talked about the successes they’ve had with their scholars. Successes included “Scholar is forming a study group”, “Scholar’s professor praised him on his critical thinking skills” and “developed a budget”. Successes like these show the amount of trust and support that the mentor relationship requires. Another success story involves Antonise Stewart, a veterinary student, who met with her mentor to donate their time towards creating kitten toys and scratching posts for the local humane society. By volunteering together, they are bonding over a shared passion and activity that makes both feel good about how they spent their time.

If you would like to learn more about the WAWS program, click here.

Sources:

http://www.mentoring.org/why-mentoring/mentoring-impact/


Carolina Enriquez - Volunteer of the Month - December 2018

 
Carolina Enriquez VOM 2018.jpg
 

Carolina is an aspiring editor who joined our Words Alive Family as an intern in the summer of 2018. Her writing skills, experience working and communicating in an office, and familiarity with social media marketing made her a perfect candidate for our social media internship. Throughout her internship, Carolina helped create content and measure our visibility on all platforms. She volunteered outside of her role to support our events as well! Carolina volunteered at the VIP Reception for the 2018 Author’s Luncheon and Fundraiser. There she met and interacted with Words Alive supporters, helped with setup and organization, and saw the finished product of her marketing efforts over the summer.

Carolina is a devoted and caring individual who fit in perfectly with our team! We have been so fortunate to have her positive attitude and skilled support over the past six months. Thank you, Carolina!

Learn more about Carolina from the interview below!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in San Diego all my life. Since I was very young I grew up loving books. Right now I’m a senior at San Diego State University, studying English and Publishing! I enjoy discovering new books and poems to read. Aside from that, I enjoy walking my dogs, hiking, and drinking lots of coffee! I aspire to be a creative editor for a publishing company one day!

2. How did you get involved with Words Alive?

During the summer of 2018, I didn’t take any classes and was just working at my job as a receptionist. I wanted to do something meaningful and related to my future field. Luckily I found an ad for Words Alive online and I promptly applied. What first got me interested was Words Alive’s mission to advocate for children’s literacy education. As a lover of books, I can’t imagine my life without reading. I think what they are doing is incredible!

3. What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?

As a social media intern, I worked on creating content for various platforms. I absolutely loved my volunteer position and I learned a lot throughout my internship. The most rewarding part is probably knowing that the posts reached people and motivated them to volunteer! I also enjoyed writing the posts and seeing the impact Words Alive has in our community through the blog posts and even events like the Annual Author’s Luncheon and Fundraiser.

4. What are you reading lately?

I love a variety of genres in books. From fiction, nonfiction, YA, and classic literature. Right now I am reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.

WAWS Evaluation Finding #4: Facetime with Mentors Means Stronger Rapport, Greater Success

An image of scholar Alicia with her mentor, Keri. They are sitting in front of a wall full of posit-it notes.

An image of scholar Alicia with her mentor, Keri. They are sitting in front of a wall full of posit-it notes.

To continually provide meaningful and evaluation-driven programming, Words Alive commenced on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Throughout this process, we identified eight findings and then brainstormed ways we could update and improve the program based on these findings. Here is the fourth finding!

Face-to-Face: Facetime with mentors means stronger rapport, greater success

Through interviews with both students and mentors, we found that mentorship was key to success for the scholars in the program. Scholars who reported a close bond with their mentor, established through frequent meetings, not only were more likely to follow through on their mentor’s advice but also felt like they weren’t “alone.”

Conversely, students with long-distance mentors struggled to form an attachment to them. Scholars and mentors alike reported awkward Skype interactions and missed phone calls. Simply put: Without having to look someone in the eye, it’s easier to flake. These factors made it difficult to build rapport, resulting in relationships that hinged solely on obligation.

“I think it would definitely be easier if it was a closer distance. We’re mostly limited to phone calls,” one mentor said. “When she is in town, it’s often pretty brief but I think our interactions go better in person.”

One pair built a strong rapport despite the distance. The difference? They were able to meet in-person when possible:

“[My mentor] would go above and beyond to meet me where I was at. If we were meeting, she would come to me a lot of times. She would take trips to San Francisco to visit her niece and then stop by and see me. Having her support made the biggest difference. My parents couldn’t come visit me, but she did – and it was such a comfort.” – Scholar, age 24

Significance

Trust is the fundamental building block of all successful relationships – and the mentor/mentee relationship is no different. But trust is built over time and difficult to establish in a phone call. Without that element of trust and essentially, rapport, mentees have difficulty opening up, asking for help or placing value on the resources offered. On the flip side, mentors feel like they are prying or stepping out of bounds when trying to follow up or hold their mentee accountable.

This finding indicated that impactful mentorships underwent a period of relationship-building first – and that happens best face-to-face.

Annual Report: Words Alive Westreich Scholarship

What happened in our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program in the 2017-2018 school year? This year, we welcomed 13 students into the program, nine of whom attended community colleges and four attended 4-year universities. We also embarked on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Celebrating Our Graduating Scholars

An image of our three graduating scholars: Zaphire, Lexi, and Domminiece holding up awards.

An image of our three graduating scholars: Zaphire, Lexi, and Domminiece holding up awards.

Three of our scholars graduated from community college last year and transferred to San Diego State University starting in the fall of 2018. Learn more about them!

Zaphire Alonso Duarte

  • College: Graduated from San Diego City College, transferring to San Diego State University in Fall 2018

  • Area of Study: Social Work

  • WAWS Recipient: 5 Years

  • “Words Alive has helped me more than just financially. The Words Alive program has been my support system both personally and academically. I am extremely thankful for all the people who are part of the staff; they are the best at always being on top of our schoolwork and lives.”

Zaira “Lexi” Martinez

  • College: Graduated from San Diego City College, transferring to San Diego State University in Fall 2018

  • Area of Study: Clinical Social Work

  • WAWS Recipient: 2 Years

  • “My experience with Words Alive has always been extremely positive. My love for reading has been restored since I have been involved with them and I’ve always found a valuable support system within the organization.”

Domminiece Willis

  • College: Graduated from Southwestern College, transferring to San Diego State University in Fall 2018

  • Area of Study: Child Development

  • WAWS Recipient: 5 Years

  • “Since becoming a WAWS scholar, I have focused more on celebrating my achievements, big or small. I understand that my educational journey is not like everyone else’s and that I will move at my own pace and in my own way, but I will make it to the finish line.”

Reporting Out

The Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program supports scholars’ whole-person development by providing 1:1 mentor support and personal and professional development workshops. Take a look at the impact!

Capture.PNG

Moving Forward

We’ll be enhancing the mentorship program by providing scholars and mentors better tools for building their relationship and tracking their progress. Through a deep evaluation process of the WAWS program with Dialogues in Action, we discovered that a high level of consistent mentor engagement is the key to success for our students!