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An Uncommon Good in Claremont

June 11, 2010

Miles Bird
An Uncommon Good in Claremont

You may remember seeing CMC students strolling through campus with waist-high individuals who looked way too young to be freshmen. You’ll see more in September when you get back on campus – these students are CMC mentors, and their smaller companions are their mentees.

According to their mission statement, Uncommon Good seeks to break the cycle of poverty among young children through the aggressive pursuit of education. Along with the mentoring program Uncommon Good also has green and health care initiatives, which sponsors young health professionals who work with the poor.

Founded in 2000 and based in Claremont, CMC students and alumni are involved with the organization in a variety of capacities. At the end of the past academic year, there were 44 CMC student mentors (40% of the 5Cs total), and 63% of the organization’s total mentoring force were from the Claremont Colleges.

SOURCE, CMC’s student-managed non-profit consulting organization sponsored by the Kravis Institute, has a team of students working with Uncommon Good during the academic year. Roxanne Phen ’10, mentor and former SOURCE team leader, comments:

“The SOURCE Uncommon Good team works closely with the nonprofit on capacity building, aiding in the writing of grants and recruitment of mentors at the Claremont Colleges, among other things…this not only gave me a deeper understanding of how nonprofits work, but inspired me to explore alternative funding sources for traditionally nonprofit causes in my year-long thesis. My hope is that I can continue to work on these issues as I start my career.”

You may also remember that Roxanne presented the gist of her thesis at the Ath idea night --and won. She also helped her mentee pay her way to a leadership conference for which she had been nominated through fundraising efforts.

Requirements for mentees to be matched with a mentor (other than the availability of a mentor – there are currently over 60 kids on the waiting list!) are that they be in good academic standing, come from a lower income or troubled household, and that they want a mentor. The requirements insure that students work with mentees that are bright and motivated to learn from their older role models, and in many cases just need that support from someone older to become motivated to attend college.

To be a mentor, one must be a good role models, meet with one's mentee for at least an hour every week, and be a steady source of support for one's mentees with a full year commitment. When mentors graduate they are tasked with re-matching their mentee to another student who they believe would be a good match for their mentee.

Mike Peel, CMC '07 and Uncommon Good's Development Director, is a huge advocate of the organization as well as their mentoring program. “Uncommon Good has been an experience that has surpassed my expectations for a career choice. The organization’s unique and multi-faceted approach to poverty and environmental issues ensures that I am constantly being challenged and growing as a professional.” While a CMC student Mike also founded SOURCE, CMC's student-managed non-profit consulting organization.

Uncommon Good is a great organization to get involved with when you get back on campus if you are looking to give back to the community in a fun and meaningful way. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, you can apply to be one here – if you apply now you will also skip the longer waiting process in September.

Some more comments by CMC students and alumni:

“This has been one of my most rewarding experiences at college! Vincent is like my little brother away from home. My influence academically speaking has taken hold as he keeps up with his grades, is reading on a daily basis, keeps a list of words he doesn’t understand and looks them up in the dictionary.” --Charlie Sarosy, CMC ‘10

Claudia Lopez, CMC ’10, has been matched with her mentee, Nina, since her freshman year. “I got involved because I was a tutor in high school. I found out that this is a lot more fun, plus I feel like I really make a difference in Nina’s life. She didn’t know anything about college when we met, but now she knows that going to college is attainable for her.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a mentor, and in retrospect it was one that defined my college career because it had such a big impact on me.” --Greg Hall, CMC ‘09

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