Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

Greg Banks: Seattle CARES Mentor since 2017

Greg Banks has been a Seattle CARES mentor since we launched Our Best in 2017. Employed in health care, Banks was one of the first men we recruited into Our Best and one of the first to complete mentor orientation and training.

Banks transitioned to The Rising program two years ago where he mentors a 13-year-old enrolled at Meany Middle School. The young man, who lives with his grandmother in the Central District, has seen more than his share of tragedy. Although his mentee was reluctant to open up at first, Banks persisted and today the two have formed a close friendship.

Along with Banks participation as a mentor, the Seattle CARES team advocated for the family, finding community partners to help pay rent and utility bills. We talked to Banks recently about mentoring.

Why did you become a mentor? I was a troubled youth and there was no one to help me make difficult decisions. My father died when I was 16 years old and I felt so lonely after that.

What do you like most about mentoring? I enjoy building strong relationships with young people. Today’s youth want the same thing I wanted when I was their age: To have someone who is there for them. They want a man who accepts them for who they are. I find it surprising that with all our technology, what a young man wants most is to be loved.

Can mentoring help youth better deal with today’s political and racial tensions? There is a lot going on in the world today, from police abuse to a global pandemic. Being able to talk with someone about these things can be life-changing.

How do you talk about these issues with The Rising scholars? During our Rising sessions, we ask the young men to talk about how they feel, what they’ve seen and heard. Then we ask: If you were an adult, what would you do? How would you change things? It gives them a chance to talk about what is going on without being judged. Some ask questions, many talk about their fears. The mentors share their experiences, as well. We tell them the most important thing is to make it home each day. If you are stopped by the police, do everything they ask you to do. It is better we pick you up from the police station under the wrong circumstances than to have to identify you at the morgue.

Describe being a mentor in three words. Rewarding, fulfilling, commitment.

Technology Resource Centers

Seattle School District is launching Temporary Resource Centers to help support PreK-12 students and families with technology access.

Technology support includes:

  • Laptop and SPS device support
  • Hot spots support
  • Support with remote learning software (e.g., Seesaw, Schoology) and other educational resources
  • General technology resource information and support
  • Support with the following translation software:
    • Microsoft translator
    • Talking Points
    • Linguistica
  • Additional English Language instructional support

Technology Resource Center Locations and Times

The following sites are open for families and students for walk-ins and appointments. Students and families can make appointments for the following services by calling Student Tech Line at: 206-252-0100 or email: laptops@seattleschools.org:

Concord International Elementary School
723 S Concord St. Seattle, WA 98108
Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed for Lunch: 11 – 11:30

Rainier View Elementary School
11650 Beacon Ave. S Seattle, WA 98178
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m
Closed for Lunch 11 – 11:30

Aki Kurose Middle School
3928 S Graham St. Seattle, WA 98118
Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed for Lunch: 11 – 11:30

Bailey Gatzert Elementary School
1301 E Yesler Way Seattle, WA 98122
Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed for Lunch: 11 – 11:30

Nathan Hale High School
10750 30th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98125
Entrance is on 110th street near the athletic field. Parking is available on 110th.
Mondays and Wednesdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed for Lunch: 11 – 11:30

Chief Sealth International High School
2600 SW Thistle St, Seattle, WA 98126
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m
Closed for Lunch 11 – 11:30

Mercer International Middle School
1600 S Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m
Closed for Lunch 11 – 11:30

John Marshall Alternative High
520 NE Ravenna Blvd, Seattle, WA 98115
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed for Lunch 11 – 11:30

The Rising gets high grades from Seattle middle school principals

The Rising has been fortunate to partner with two Seattle middle schools whose principals and staff have fully supported the program goals. At the end of the school year, we asked Chanda Oatis, principal, Meany Middle School, and assistant principal Mawiayah Fields, Denny International Middle School, to share some feedback with us.

Ms. Fields noted that students were uplifted by the program. “The Rising scholars see that there are adults and a community who truly believe in them and their families,” she said. “The mentors are a dedicated and caring support team. I really enjoyed their fellowship and intentional request for feedback to improve the level of programming.”

Family members also realized the value of the program. Several family members whose children attend Denny International told us how excited the students are to join the virtual session each week. “For one young man, his confidence increased and now he has another role model to hold him accountable,” said Ms. Fields. The program also helped his family build positive relationships and the family felt supported through difficult times.

At Meany Middle School, The Rising received high marks as well. “It’s a part of their week that they look forward to,” said Principal Oatis.

 

Positive Family Connections offers healing space for parents and guardians

Being a single parent or guardian is incredibly difficult work, yet there are few outlets available where parents can learn how to move beyond stress and disappointment and embrace hope, support and the promise of a better future.

To fill this gap, Seattle CARES offers Positive Family Connections, a program for parents that grew out of The Rising, an innovative trauma-informed curriculum for middle-school students.

Positive Family Connections has two goals: To improve the relationship Black youth have with their parents or guardians, and to provide a safe space where adults who want to be more effective parents can de-stress, share problems and work on healing themselves.

As with our other programs, Wellness Healing Circles are a game-changer. In these sessions, CARES-trained facilitators focus on what makes a healthy quality life, emphasizing parenting, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills.

Most of the parents are saddled with other worries: Maybe they can’t pay the cellphone bill or afford groceries. Our facilitators are connected to community partners who may be able to provide rental assistance and gift cards to be used for food as well as internet service and WiFi connections.

This spring, to keep the community safe, Positive Family Collections went virtual. The video conferencing software allows facilitators and mentors to personally lead sessions online. The online format offers consistency and a safe place to share hopes and dreams, work through solutions and start the healing process.

New Rising survey shows increased racial pride and identity

For the past year, Seattle CARES worked with the Bethune Institute, a non-profit education and research organization in Lexington, Ky., to assess The Rising program. Dr. Lynn Smith, president and CEO of Bethune, led the study.

Dr. Smith interviewed the Seattle students at the beginning of the school year and then again in March when the schools closed abruptly because of the pandemic. “During that time frame, we saw increases in students’ self-confidence, racial identity and racial pride,” said Dr. Smith. “They also improved in social and emotional intelligence.”

Dr. Smith found that The Rising youth had experienced great trauma in their young lives. More than 25 percent had moved or changed schools in the past year and 14 percent had a family member in prison or deported. “The Wellness Circles speak to the students’ trauma because they focus on healing,” said Dr. Smith. “Mentoring circles give them consistent and positive relationships with other adults, relationships that may not be available within their community.”

Dr. Smith also found that 91 percent of scholars participated in the program’s Wellness Mentoring Circles, 79 percent talked with their mentors one-on-one, 83 percent saw increased racial identify and pride, and 92 percent reported increased self-confidence.

The Rising was created in 2012 by the National CARES Mentoring Movement. The Seattle program, one of 58 CARES programs coast-to-coast, is unique. “Seattle focuses on male students,” said Dr. Smith, “which is not the case nationally. The Seattle team targets students who can really benefit from the program.” Seattle is also the only regional CARES program that transitioned to a virtual setting when schools shut down in the spring.