The program, which has officially launched at Frank McClarin, is a semester long program.
“The Fulton Effect was formed in January of this year and launched on Feb. 25,” said Paula Wilson, one of the coordinators of the program. “It was formed by five Georgia State University Master of Social Work students in conjunction with StandUp for Kids, the Fulton County Schools homeless liaison and a school social worker at Frank McClarin.”
Wilson, along with the other four founding classmates, is required to work in groups and complete a community project, in lieu of a traditional thesis.
The social work program at Georgia State University has a concentration in community partnerships, which is why the students pursued creating a program of this type.
The goal was to “develop and implement a mentoring program specifically targeted at supporting homeless unaccompanied youth” at the high school.
Currently, there are six student and mentor pairs.
“We are in the full-swing of things now and have bi-weekly mentor meetings on Mondays during the students’ lunch times,” said Wilson. “It has been a fast-paced, fun and rewarding experience for all of us.”
Prior to establishment of the program, there was nothing of its type in place.
“We have really built it from the ground up, including creating the program’s structure and policies, coordinating with the high school and our program sponsors, recruiting mentors and reaching out to the local businesses in the community to request lunch donations for meetings,” said Wilson.
Aside from providing the support and encouragement the selected students need, Wilson thinks the establishment of the personal relationship is vital.
“A lot of these youth may not have someone in their lives to ask about how school is going or to teach them about obtaining employment or applying to college, but through additional encouragement, accountability and support, the mentoring relationship provides that,” she said.
Those interested in being mentors for the program must be 25 and older and pass a background check.
Attending a one-day volunteer session with StandUp for Kids is also required, along with committing to bi-weekly meetings for the entire semester.
Wilson said she hopes in fall, the Fulton Effect will expand to two additional schools in the south Fulton area.