Focus Area: Youth Development
Grant Amount: $10,000
Located in Northfield. Project Friendship (PF) helps children develop self-confidence, self-worth and a foundation for healthy decision-making. Originating in 1965, PF provides mentoring relationships with college students from St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, serving children in 2nd-7th grade from the Northfield School District identified as needing a mentor. Half the children served are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 15% are Latino or African American in a community where the total population is 3.8% Latino and .8% African American. Youth are matched with mentors from similar backgrounds or with similar interests, with a focus on building confidence, inspiring character, and creating connections. Currently 268 children are involved with Project Friendship working with mentors.
Grant supports continuation of a new CARES (promoting Compassion, Awareness, Respect, Empowerment, and Support) team to help create a bridge to post-Covid functioning. A key focus of this effort is the emotional wellness of both mentees and mentors including additional trauma-informed training for mentors. The program enlists the aid of school social workers at the middle schools attended by many of the youth.