Every June, the Seattle CARES team assesses how well the program performed during the school year and how much progress the students are making. The students also get to comment, providing their own evaluations as they answer three important questions: Why are you here? What does The Rising mean to you? What do you hope to gain?
Here are some of their comments, edited for clarity and length.
The Rising means that I will learn how to grow up and become stronger. I come here to learn. What I hope to gain is friends. – Noble, Denny International Middle School
The Rising means getting to the top because I want to go to the next level because it seems fun and empowering. I want to be happy and more popular and learn more. I want to be proud of my ethnicity and my culture. – Boryad, Meany Middle School
To me, The Rising means that people are here to see us rise up. I am here because you guys help me and my mom with money for food. I hope to be the best I can be. – Isaiah, Denny International
I am here because I want to learn more about change in the world. It is good because we learn about our Black heroes. – Eyosias, Meany
The Rising is a community that helps us. I am here because my brother attended earlier and he thought it would be good for me. He said it is nice and he was not lying. They give us food and gift cards, and they help us out a lot. – Yunis, Denny International
I like being in this group because it’s fun. I really like the super hero project and I want to get leadership skills. I will stop playing around in this class and will take it seriously. I will share my work and listen. – Kyle, Meany
I am here because my mom signed me up and because my brother was there. My brother and I are gaining knowledge about the Black community. I hope to gain respect, kindness and love. – Houd, Denny International
Seattle CARES just completed a full school year of The Rising for Girls at both Meany and Denny International middle schools.
The program was tested last year as a pilot project at Denny only and it was held virtually because of the pandemic. Last September, we launched the girls-only option at both schools in person and enrolled 38 girls – 19 at each school.
“Once school leaders saw the positive effects from The Rising for Boys, we were asked repeatedly to inaugurate a girls-only Rising,” said Don Cameron, executive director, Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement. “The Rising for Girls addresses the specific needs that young women face in today’s challenging world.”
The Rising for Girls is customized to enhance their cultural pride and self-esteem while developing their critical thinking and literacy skills. Women facilitators and mentors, such as Ronnae Redmond, were recruited to work in a group setting.
“Based on the program’s success, we are looking forward to continuing The Rising for Girls in the upcoming school year,” said Cameron.
Super heroes were a big hit among Rising scholars again this spring!
Students in The Rising at Denny International and Meany middle schools used this innovative curriculum to spark meaningful conversation and learn what character traits are important to live a quality life. The program was launched in 2020.
The Rising scholars created and named their own super heroes, designed super hero costumes and gave each crusader a super power – a force they used for good and to make the world a better place. For example, Tonka made people disappear into a universe called “the back room,” replacing them with alternate beings. Crowbend could fast-forward or stop time, and Rizz was a shape-shifter.
Working in small groups, the scholars created back-stories for their super heroes. Vilo ran away from home and lived in an abandoned factory where he built a machine that gave him super powers. Crowbend lived in a crime-filled neighborhood in New York. Thanks to his super-power, if someone sets off a bomb, he could stop time to disable it.
The super heroes program allows the scholars to discover and express their inner creativity. “In the super heroes project, I created my own hero,” said Ben (left, in photo with friend Joey) who attends Meany Middle School. “It was a way for us to use our imagination and to focus on completing an assignment. I felt like I was free again, after living in the pandemic.”
Several graphic designers helped the students translate their creative ideas into comic-book format. At the end of June, the scholars turned in a PowerPoint presentation to tell the story of each super hero.
“We hope the students will remember the lessons they learned from their super heroes project,” said Don Cameron, executive director, Seattle CARES. “We want to inspire our scholars to have courage and to serve their community.”
Ronnae Redmond is a co-facilitator in the new all-girl’s Rising program. A native of Seattle, she earned a bachelor’s degree in child and family development, and today she works as an outreach housing specialist at the nonprofit Mary’s Place. Ronnae joined Seattle CARES as a mentor because of her interest in giving back to her community.
Recently, we asked Ronnae to tell us more about her experiences with group mentoring and what it means to her.
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
My choosing to become a mentor comes from the passion and drive I want to share to shape young minds. I didn’t want to be the mentor I never had when I was growing up. I wanted to be a role model in a child’s life, someone she can look up to and confide in.
What kind of growth have you seen with The Rising scholars?
I have watched these girls blossom into young ladies. At the beginning of the year, they were closed off. You could see they were reluctant to share their thoughts and ideas with the group. But as time went on, their personalities began to show. I’ve seen some of the quieter scholars speak up and find their voice through our group sessions.
What do you talk about with your mentees during the group sessions?
I try to bring up real-life issues. I think it’s important to bring up these issues because they are part of today’s society. There may come a time when a mentee comes face-to-face with one of these issues and it’s important for them to know how to respond or reflect on the situation.
How would you describe a mentor?
A mentor is committed, attentive and compassionate.
Meany Middle School students Ben and Joey (left to right, below) have seen their grades and their confidence improve, thanks to their ongoing participation in The Rising program, one of Seattle CARES signature programs. In addition to Meany, The Rising also has a program at Denny International Middle School.
When signing up for The Rising, Ben’s mother Tiffany hoped it would expose her son to positive role models and help him develop a more confident self-image. She also wanted him to make new friends. Marauita’s son Joey has seen himself become “more of a leader and have more confidence.”
The young scholars also gave positive marks to The Rising. Joey found that his participation in the program “kept me out of gangs and gave me something to do.” His favorite part was working with mentors and getting additional tutoring. Ben also liked that he made new friends and that the teachers were very supportive.
Both moms participate in the Wellness Circles for parents, a safe space for them to meet with other women and de-stress. “The Wellness Circle has impacted my life and helped me have an effect on other women,” said Marauita. “I take the things we talk about and see how they can be incorporated into my own life.”
While the boys are looking forward to time off this summer, their mothers hope their sons’ progress will continue to grow. “I want him to take the values he learns from The Rising and apply them not only to school but in his future life, as well,” said Marauita.