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Allentown one of three cities to get new mentor program

By Paola Giangiacomo, Reporter
Published On: May 28 2014 05:12:47 PM CDT
Updated On: May 29 2014 05:40:55 AM CDT

Allentown one of three cities to get new mentor program

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Allentown is one of three cities in America that will lead a national movement to change the way students are mentored.

The Mentor Allentown Coalition, a partnership of more than 30 local organizations, will share a million dollars in federal funding with Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Chicago, Illinois, to mentor at least 2,000 students throughout Allentown.

The goal is to get students excited about the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

Alex Gonzales, 17, a senior at Dieruff High School in Allentown, is not accustomed to public speaking but thanks to the mentors in his life, he now has the confidence to stand before a crowd and give a speech.

"A mentor is more than a teacher. Teachers are meant to teach you but mentors are meant to make sense of it and use it," Gonzales said.

Now Alex is a mentor to other young students and hopes others will follow suit.

That's the goal of the The Mentor Allentown Coalition, to provide mentors to at least 2,000 students in Allentown.

Mentor Allentown Coalition Leaders, who were brought together by the Da Vinci Science center, plan to connect professionals with students and to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM.

"What we're talking about is high impact mentoring. It's not a one shot meet a computer engineer and you're done. High impact mentoring is offering 10 or more hours of direct contact between a mentor and a student or a group of students," said Lin Erickson, the executive director of the DaVinci Science Center.

Students involved will be helping create a national model for successful mentor-ship that could ultimately lead to successful careers.

The mayor of Allentown says while the city is currently going through a construction boom and economic vitality, that pales in comparison to leading the National STEM movement.

"All of this development is great but the force that holds it all together is our kids. The focus is on the greatest asset which is our children," said Mayor Pawlowski.

The Mentor Allentown Coalition is looking for STEM professionals to serve as program mentors. Please visit their website for more information about becoming a mentor.