Why Add An Academic Component To STS?

Learning Gaps are the reason we are doing IMAGINE Community Academy

Learning gap refers to the relative performance of individual students—i.e., the disparity between what a student has actually learned and what he or she was expected to learn at a particular age or grade level.

One of the more consequential outcomes of learning gaps is their tendency, if left unaddressed, to compound over time and become more severe and pronounced, which can increase the chances that a student will struggle academically and socially or drop out of school. In addition, if foundational academic skills—such as reading, writing, and math, as well as social and interpersonal skills—are not acquired by students early on in their education, it may be more difficult for them to learn these foundational skills later on.

Avoiding the Academic Brick Wall

Even as middle-schoolers, the youth we serve are already on perilous trajectories toward gangs, drugs, prison, prostitution, teen pregnancy, and unemployment, because they were continually promoted without adequate reading comprehension and basic math skills. The closer they get to high school the wider become their learning gaps and the more likely they will hit an Academic Brick Wall if we do not nudge their trajectories towards paths of personal growth and learning.

This is why our efforts are aimed at closing the learning gaps for fatherless and high risk youth. Together with your tangible support these children will avoid a life of government entitlement by enjoying a life of academic empowerment.

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Why Include Girls in STS?

More than one occasion I have been asked: “Why are we now including girls in an organization that has historically mentored fatherless boys?”

My reply:

Our vision must grow to include more than mentoring fatherless boys, and it must become greater than delivering a globally educated workforce. Our goal must expand to empower children, both boys, and girls, to realize their value and potential that begins to erase the real and imagined boundaries in their lives and to support them in the pursuit of their dreams.

To accomplish this, every staff member, mentor, and volunteer must be intentional with connecting their efforts to the grand and eternal purpose for every child’s life. And today we have a beautiful opportunity to provide a critical infusion of support aimed at changing and empowering the lives of precious children as demonstrated in this short 16-second video.

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Celebrating Children’s Victories and Successes

What do you categorize as a “success” for your child? What about a “victory”? Is it getting elected class president? Carrying the winning ball across the end zone? Getting accepted to an Ivy League school? Most parents have dreams for their children and help them aspire to being their best.

When a fatherless boy has never been motivated or supported at home the story is quite different. Shoulder-To-Shoulder mentors tell of mentees they’ve been matched with who have never played catch, never ridden a bike, never gone fishing or flown a kite. Success for these kids included taking their first bus ride, playing catch, going beyond the boundaries of their three-square-mile neighborhood. Success also is achieved by resisting the invitation by local gang members to get initiated, or declining multiple opportunities to sample one of the varieties of street drugs offered by older siblings and even parents.

These aren’t kids who get elected class president or who do volunteer work for extra credit. Victories for these children can be categorized as completing homework, getting a part time job, participating in after school programs and even getting to school each day. The chances for these children, many of whom are one of several siblings living with a single mother and living on $15,000 per year or less, are nearly zero when it comes to higher education, well-paying jobs or even getting out of the neighborhood.

Shoulder-To-Shoulder is beginning to break that cycle. There are many successes and victories to celebrate for the dozens of Shoulder-To-Shoulder mentees (past and present) who have been a part of the program.

Below are a few examples:

Taking His Future Into His Own Hands

Seeing a boy with a GPA of LESS than 2.0, no place to study in the home, not even a bed to sleep on develop a strong relationship with his mentor. As a result his eyes have been opened up to the opportunities and possibilities available to him in the world. From this enlightenment comes and understanding of the importance of focusing on studies and grades. He joined the Royal Ranger Junior Leadership Training, attended the SMASH (Summer Math and Science Honor’s Academy) at UC Davis and has started attending church on a regular basis. He is getting good grades and has set goals for his future.

Learning To Trust

A mentee whose home life is with an ailing grandmother because his drug addicted mother lives in another city and isn’t in his life was matched with a mentor. It took nearly 6 months for the boy to trust his mentor and begin opening up to him and having lengthy discussions. Over the course of time the boy realized that his mentor was giving him the fatherly guidance he had lacked. And with this new founded trust he has learned many new skills such as how to study, what it’s like to be part of an involved family, why character is important and many other valuable life lessons. He has become like a member of the mentors family and embraces learning and improving life skills.

Gaining Confidence and Feeling Empowered

Two mentees were matched with a mentor who was shocked to hear of the drive by shooting they witnessed while waiting for the school bus that morning.

To them it wasn’t a big deal, to him it was a clear understanding of the life they were living. These boys were mentored from 7th grade through graduation going from a GPA of “F” to as high as 2.75 and even 3.8. This mentor introduced these boys to snow for the first time, took them each summer to the American Cardboard Boat Regatta, taught them proper manners and etiquette and even competed in the Lion’s Club speech contest. Did they celebrate getting into Harvard? Not quite, but seeing them walk across the stage at graduation was the biggest victory they ever could have imagined. Their mentor was standing up and cheering them on every step of the way.

These are just a few brief examples of the impact Shoulder-To-Shoulder mentors have had on mentees. But there are more successes to celebrate those are the impacts that the mentees have had on the mentors.

Here are a few examples of how mentors are impacted by dedicating there time to these fatherless boys:

A mentor expressed the way his experience has given him personal growth and the lessons he’s learned:

  • Accept people for who they are, as they are
  • Allow God to speak through me, when I’m at a loss for words, trust God
  • Don’t give up, otherwise who will intervene on behalf of the child?
  • The other STS mentors are amazing guys, and I humble myself to know they know way better than me in many areas, listen to them.

Another mentor gave this feedback:

For those thinking of becoming a mentor I would say “go for it”. It will be frustrating and rewarding. It will seem at times fruitless. But I guarantee it will help meet the need of a father in someone’s life. For those who are able to help financially, I want you to know that the staff that have vetted and now support the mentors are amazing people without whom the program would not exist. Please partner with Shoulder to Shoulder.

Whether you are of the mindset to join this dedicated tribe of mentors who have such profound impact on fatherless boys, or you want to provide financial support to help this good work continue, please help Shoulder To Shoulder continue on its path to helping break the cycle of fatherlessness. Your help can change the course of someone’s life. Please Donate Today.

 

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Imagine this life . . .

A young boy, 15 years old, living in squalor with his 41 year-old mother and 5 siblings (only one with whom he shares a father). He doesn’t remember his father who took off when he was just 5 years old, and his mother doesn’t really care what happens to him. She makes a habit of telling him she wanted to “flush him” (as an unwanted child) and that his father has legally disowned him.

He’s moved 7 times in 2 years (6 times within 6 months). He has been bounced around to live with some of mom’s friends but hasn’t ever had a real bed to sleep in. Finally he lands back with mom and 5 siblings living in a 1-bedroom apartment located 11 miles away from school. When there is money the kids take the bus to school, when there isn’t money they just don’t go to school. He is failing his classes.

Mom has now been diagnosed with cancer but doesn’t give any details to the kids. They don’t know what’s going to happen to her or to themselves and are scared.

Does this boy stand a chance at life? How does he cope with the reality ahead of him?

Fear and Desperation . . .

It’s hard to imagine how a boy living such a life can ever have a shot at happiness, success, career or marriage. He doesn’t even understand what that looks like. It’s not a part of his life experience.

At a point of desperation, this boy is matched with a mentor from Shoulder-To-Shoulder. They begin doing small activities to build common ground – bike rides, going to restaurants, outings to Old Sacramento and more. As the relationship grows, the trust grows. Friendly discussions turn to a strong bond, the boy looks forward to their time together and the mentor gives the boy a new perspective on life, a new understanding of the possibilities ahead and a path to find his way.

The mentor becomes such an important figure to this boy and his family that the mother actually opens up to him about her dire condition. The cancer has spread to kidneys, liver, blood and now brain. The kids don’t know any of this and she asks the mentor to explain to her boys what is happening. The mentor delivers the news that her illness is not curable and that time is precious.

New Perspectives, New Opportunities

Over the past two years life has changed significantly for the boy. His mentor got him enrolled in the Summer Math and Science Honor’s Academy (SMASH) at UC Davis. He also joined the Royal Ranger Junior Leadership Training program which is a Christ-based Boy Scout Troop. He spends weekends at his Mentor’s house and joins his family for church on Sunday.

Despite all of the positive influences, this boy still has obstacles that he is overcoming. His mother’s illness, lack of motivation at school, drugs in the home, etc. But rather than have to navigate on his own, he has a mentor who can help him understand the consequences and benefits to the choices he makes and help him find a new path for his future.

Help for the Future . . .

There are currently 27 boys waiting for a mentor. Without this person in their life, they may not have a chance at success in their future. Please donate whatever you can to help fund mentors for these boys in waiting. You can help! Donate Today.

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Set Backs and Breakthroughs

How can you escape when the past has such a hold over you?

It’s hard and it’s painful, but in the end it is worth it. For Joel and his mentor Dale, the signs of stress were all too familiar.

After having been a mentoring team for several years, Joel’s grades started slipping. He started missing meetings with Dale. When Dale got a message from Joel at the last minute that Joel would miss their third meeting in a row, he decided to investigate.

Dale was pretty sure that Joel was with his girlfriend. Circling the neighborhood, checking out Joel’s favorite spots led Dale to the dugout of the school ball field where he found them making out. Dale walked over and casually sat down next to them, surprising the couple. It was decision time for Joel. What would he choose? School or his girlfriend?

Rather than lecture Joel, in their next meeting Dale lead him through an exercise in dealing with distractions. As they discussed their distractions, Joel’s girlfriend was nowhere to be found. Joel was very reluctant to consider that his relationship with his girlfriend was a distraction. Dale tried to help Joel see how his choices would affect his future.

How do you move forward when people you care about don’t want you to change?

At first Joel refused to listen. Then about three weeks later Joel intentionally broke up with his girlfriend. She took it badly and diligently tried to get back together with him. It was a rough time for Joel. He was lonely without her. But Joel stayed firm with his decision to move on with his life.

On his own initiative Joel found, applied and got enrolled in a summer program at Sac State for criminal justice. Joel’s grades improved. He will graduate this semester and plans to attend Sac State in the fall.

About six months after Joel broke off his relationship with his girlfriend, Joel saw her at a school event and noticed that she was several months pregnant.

Joel realized that the baby could have been his if he had not made the choice to break up with her. He is grateful for the fatherly guidance he received from Dale, guidance that took his life in a better direction.

More boys like Joel are waiting for mentors. We need $50,000 by this Father’s Day to give 27 fatherless boys a chance at a new life. Donate Today.

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Living Life Together

Skiing in Tahoe, catching a Kings Game, shopping for back to school clothes. Normal, right? Something everybody does.

Well, no not everybody. Many fatherless boys in the Sacramento region are surviving day to day with few of the activities that most of us take for granted. These boys are more comfortable with drive by shootings than they are a trip to the mall.

That all changes when fatherless boys become part of the Shoulder to Shoulder program. Shoulder to Shoulder matches fatherless young men with male volunteers who act as mentors. They provide the connection to fatherhood that these young men have missed.

From the moment boys and mentors are matched they start living life together through special events, fun projects and school challenges. The Shoulder to Shoulder sponsored Freedom Hall offers success readiness workshops, Friday Nite Live, camping and hiking trips and other special outings and events.

“I started coming to Freedom Hall for the video games, but I kept coming for the information I was hearing that I never heard before. They taught me a new way of doing life.” – Semaj Horace, Freedom Hall Graduate, 2014

In another event, the ‘Great American Cardboard Boat Regatta,” boats were made by the boys from cardboard boxes and duct tape with minimal help from the mentors. Once completed, the boys and mentors went to the high school pool to give it a try. The boats were launched with one young man in each, armed with an oar. The goal was to see who could make the most laps across the width of the pool. It wasn’t long before the boats took on water and sunk. The winner made 10 laps. The next summer the boys had learned. When these boats were launched, the winner made almost 70 laps.

More memories are made together include visiting the California Maritime academy for a tour of the Golden Bear Training ship, enjoying Kings and River Cat games, motocross, and even turning “cowboy” at the Pro Bull Riding Tour.

We need $50,000 by this Father’s Day to give 27 fatherless boys a chance at a new life.

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It Takes A Village

We know that it takes more than a single parent to raise a child and the saying that “it takes a village” rings true more today than ever before. In our region, the number of fatherless homes has increased to more than 200,000, putting many our youth at a disadvantage. Statistics show that boys who grow up fatherless are more likely to wind up in jail or on the streets than those in two-parent homes.

But we can put an end to this debilitating cycle.

We, as one community, can have an impact that lasts generations. Help break the cycle on June 17 for the Legacy Challenge in downtown Sacramento at the State Capitol for a fun 5k Run/Walk. (not a timed event)

Join us as families and community leaders will honor men who serve as great fathers and mentors.

The cost is just $30 and will have a profound impact on Shoulder to Shoulder to be able to reach more at-risk youth in our neighborhoods.

Sign up with your family and friends today!

Richard Moore,

 

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A Joyful Connection

A fatherless boy. A new man in his life. Maybe for the first time. Anger, frustration, sadness and a spirit of fear is replaced by warmth, joy and a growing sense of acceptance and purpose. And Yes, just plain fun.

Shoulder to Shoulder matches fatherless boys with surrogate fathers called mentors to provide young men with the experience of growing up with a dad. It’s an experience none would likely have without the commitment made by the men willing to be mentors.

“At first I was reluctant to mentor because we were presented with a 6-year commitment with the possibility of helping your young man through college. Jeremiah and I have developed a relationship of trust, honesty, hope and a father/son-like love. I have seen the development of the character of a young man that I am proud to call my friend,” said a mentor.

STS needs your help to raise $50,000 to find and support mentors for 27 fatherless boys waiting for a chance at a new life. Can you help us?

The First Snow Fall

“The boys were on overnight trip to a camp in the mountains. It was winter and it had snowed. We have a picture of Raymond carrying a snowball the size of a cantaloupe. Carrying it with no gloves; carrying it as a prized possession. Having never seen snow, he was bound and determined to take it home to show his family and friends, most of whom had never seen snow either,” said a mentor.

Pride of Accomplishment

“I’d been to many graduations over the years and responded with the perfunctory hand clap and smile. This time it was different. I jumped up and down in my bleacher seat screaming and yelling with tears in my eyes. My boys were graduating: My boys that began our program in the 7th grade with an average GPA of ‘F’ or lower were graduating. All were above 2.75 some were above 3.0 and a couple were 3.8,” said a mentor.

Growing Together, Mentors Speak

As the boys grow from scared and hopeless children into young men of strength, character and accomplishment their mentors grow as well.

“I’ve grown so much with my own children, other people and my own relationships.”

“You see kids who think they have no hope. Their chins on their chest. You see them change. They stand up straight. They look you in the eye. You can see them change right in front of you. It’s very impactful.”

STS needs your help to raise $50,000 to find and support mentors for 27 fatherless boys waiting for a chance at a new life. Can you help us?

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27 Boys Need Fathers for Father’s Day

Help us raise $50,000 by this Father’s Day to give 27 fatherless boys a chance at a new life.

 

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Richard Moore Named President of Shoulder To Shoulder

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Richard to assume day-to-day operations of organization addressing fatherlessness.

Shoulder To Shoulder, one of the few local nonprofit agencies addressing crime, truancy and homelessness through mentoring at-risk fatherless young boys and coaching their single moms or grandmothers announces Richard Moore will serve as the organization’s President.

Richard has more than two decades experience in the not-for-profit sector. Most recently, Richard served as the Northern California Area Manager for Education First and led the Master’s Commission Urban Missions Institute in São Paulo, Brazil.

“We are thrilled to be able to add someone with Richard’s experience and passion for helping at-risk youth to the Shoulder To Shoulder team,” said Shoulder To Shoulder Founder Bill Coibion. “As an organization, we are committed to helping the unprecedented number of young boys in our inner cities growing up without fathers. This seldom discussed social issue is having a devastating impact on our schools and jails. In Richard, we believe we have someone who is focused on breaking this debilitating cycle of fatherlessness.”

Shoulder to Shoulder, headquartered in Del Paso Heights, is committed to addressing fatherlessness through a mentor program that equips urban youth for life, enabling them to become well-balanced, mature men in their family and community.

In his role as president, Richard will oversee day-to-day operations of Shoulder To Shoulder and lead the organizations latest initiatives and outreach programs.

“Leaving a legacy to the generations that follow us is one of the most important things we can do in this lifetime,” said Richard. “Shoulder to Shoulder’s unique ability to focus on the cause of homelessness, crime and education dropout rates, aligns with my passions to help address our community’s deepest needs. I am thankful for this opportunity to transform the lives of disadvantaged young boys.”

Richard, a native of San Jose, California, earned degrees in Biblical Studies from Northern California Bible and Organizational Management from Ashford University. Richard is a distinguished author, having published with his wife, Jocelyn, The H Factor, a book on Corporate Social Responsibility and Employment Engagement.

Not only devoted to helping youth and the less fortunate, Richard and Jocelyn have seven children: Randi, Aravis, Debora, Rebekah, Adriana, Sean and Christopher; and four granddaughters. Richard enjoys international travel, global friendships, reading, yoga, journaling, camping and spending as much time as possible with his wife and children.

Founder and CEO, Bill Coibion, will take on an advisory role in Shoulder To Shoulder to assist with the transition. He will focus his subsequent efforts on developing initiatives to encourage and equip men in our region to become Christ like servants in their homes and area churches and model being a Godly husband, father and community servant to his children, family, friends and many others.

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